Review of CTC Math: An Online Math Program

I’ve posted several times this year about our math woes. We ended up this year with a new curriculum that really didn’t work for us. And then I was faced with what to do for the rest of the school year. It’s difficult to find money to spend for something new. And then I saw CTC Math. I was given the opportunity to review a 12 month Family Plan. This is an online math program for K-12. Because it is online and there is streaming video, it helps to have a computer with high speed internet for streaming. This program includes all of the children in the family. It is set up for five, but CTC will add members if needed. The 12 month plan is $118 for the family. There are other membership plans for single students and for monthly payments instead of yearly. (These prices reflect a sale price listed currently on the CTC Math website.) The program has math instruction for grades K-12. Up through grade 6, this could really be a full curriculum. I think that the higher level maths may better use CTC as a supplement instead of a full curriculum.

CTC Math features Pat Murray, a world-renown Australian math instructor, teaching all kinds of math topics. (He speaks with an Australian accent which we Americans totally loved!)

There are three main parts of the program- the parent area, the lessons, and the speed skills area. The parent area has access to summary reports and detailed reports for each child. There is also a listing of any rewards that the students have earned throughout the selected time. Along the right, there is a side bar with a summary of any activity that has taken place on the account from any student. This is a good place to get a glance at what each child has been accomplishing. Because of the detail of the reports I could view, I didn’t have to sit with each child as they worked. I could check up on them on the parent area page. I also selected to have a weekly email sent that gave me a summary report of each child’s activity and scores.

The next part of the CTC Math program is the student section with lessons. Kathryne, my 9th grader, is working on Algebra for a high school credit. She really didn’t want to change over to CTC entirely for the review period because she was concerned about getting behind in her regular math. She did try out the Algebra section for me though. My other three children all worked entirely in CTC Math and will continue to do so because it has been a good fit for us. I have a 3rd grader, 4th grader, and 8th grader working in the program now.

For each of them, I’ve been very concerned about falling behind because of our math curriculum problems this year. So I had each of them start at the beginning of their grade level and work through at their own pace. On the opening page after login, the student sees these level choices: Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th grade, Basic math and pre-algebra, Elementary measurement, Elementary geometry, Algebra 1, Pre-calculus, Calculus, Algebra 2, Geometry, Trigonometry. Rachel and Ashlyne both started in their grade -3rd and 4th- and Charles began in Algebra 1.

Once they choose their level, several “streams” appear beside the level. After they choose a stream a list of “topics” appears beside the streams. After they select a topic, they have the option to take a Standard test or a Comprehensive test or begin a lesson. The tests can be taken at any time. So they can be used as a placement- if the student is ready for the topic- or as an end of topic assessment. The comprehensive test- which is longer- is also a good unit review with problems from every topic in the stream.

When the student selects a lesson, a streaming video opens. Pat Murray’s (Australian) voice teaches the topic to the child. The videos are not very long – even the upper levels are around five minutes. After the video the student will click on the option to answer questions. In the lower levels, the answers are just entered into the program for many problems because many don’t need extra room to work out a problem. In the upper levels, there is often a worksheet that the student prints out and then works on. Then the answers are entered into the program. In the lower levels that my younger girls are doing, there are usually around ten questions. Charles’s Algebra usually has fifteen. The student gets immediate feedback on whether or not the answer is correct, and if an answer is incorrect, they can view the correct answer and- especially in the upper levels- the solutions worked out. All of the lessons- that I’ve seen- also have a choice to see the lesson summary by clicking a button on the right.

The other part of CTC Math is the Speed Skills practice. We didn’t do as much with this because I have mixed feelings about speed drills. But I do plan on having my younger girls especially practice in this area this summer to build up their basic math facts skills. The Speed Skills area has practice on four levels: addition and subtraction; addition, subtraction, and multiplication; addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division; and addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division with remainders. The students are given sixty seconds to see how many correct answers they get. They compete against themselves to better their record.

There are many, many things we are loving about CTC Math. There are only a few things I would change. And it truly has been perfect for us right now as we have needed to right some of our math issues. Here are some of the things that we have liked.

*Short lessons. The lessons don’t drag on forever as some of the online programs we’ve used do. They are short enough to hold the kids’ interest.
*Progress indicated while answering problems. Another problem I’ve noticed in some online programs is that the questions seem to go on and on, and the kids- especially the younger ones- get antsy because it’s taking long, and they don’t know how much longer it will be. With CTC Math, they can see a progress bar and know exactly how much longer the questions will go on.
*Progress is rewarded with certificates. Based on their score, students receive awards: silver, gold, platinum. They can keep working on a topic until they better their score and receive the certificate they are working toward. These certificates are a big appeal for my younger kids. I’ve had one who really wanted to keep on with a topic until she could get that Platinum!

*The parent notification. I love that I can see how each child is progressing any time I like. I don’t have to sit with each child to know exactly how they are doing. With multiple children it’s difficult to watch everyone, so I love that I can check up on them.
*Ability to move to any level any time. There are times that an older child needs to work on a younger topic. With CTC, I don’t have to put them in a grade and keep them there. I’ve found that for us, grade levels don’t mean much in our homeschooling. And it’s frustrating when I program makes me place a child in a “grade level.” With CTC I can move a child around in the program however I would like.
*One price for the family. With only four children, my family is still considered large to some. And when I see an online program that charges for each student individually, I usually can’t afford it. But with CTC I can add all of children for one price. I think the price- $118 for the year- is terrific for a math program than can be for all the kids all year. Even as a supplement, I think it’s a great price.

So there hasn’t been much I haven’t loved about CTC Math. But there are a few things I would have liked to see that I haven’t.

*Scheduling assignments. I would like a way to give each child an assignment schedule. Because we have the ability skip around as needed, I would like to have a way to assign specific streams and topics.
*Review. CTC Math is based on a mastery method of math teaching, not a spiral method of teaching. One of the things I don’t like it that previous topics aren’t reviewed every lesson. My personal philosophy of math- and plenty of others disagree- is that this constant review is necessary. CTC Math doesn’t have it. The fact that students can go back to any level and can take those Comprehensive tests does make me feel a little better about the lack of daily review. But I’d like to see review built into the lesson problems each day.

I am very thankful that CTC Math came when it did. I know that God cares about “little things” like math curricula, and I know we needed this. There are many things we’ve loved about it and only a few I didn’t.

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