As previously announced on Mathnasium Matters, the Education Department is about to release an update to the current Core/Original Level 8 Assessment.  This Assessment will be called Algebra Readiness (AR) and will be released in partnership with a high school complement to the Computation Assessment which will be called High School Fundamental Skills (HSFS).  The curriculum associated with these new Assessments will be a combination of new and existing (3000 level) curriculum.

Why Algebra Readiness?  As all of you know, we have traditionally numbered our Assessments by the grade level skills that they contain, but sometime around middle school, that convention starts to fall apart.  Assessments that address high school course content will be named more in line with their target audience.  The planned sequence is Algebra Readiness, Algebra, Geometry Readiness, Geometry, Algebra II, and Higher Math Material (HMM).  The primary audience for Algebra Readiness is a student who is getting ready for (or in the early stages of) a true Algebra I course—the Assessment targets skills critical for a full and complete understanding and mastery of Algebra concepts as they are presented.  A secondary audience for this Assessment is any struggling high school student we believe lacks basic Pre-Algebra skills.

As most of us know all too well, many high school students come to our centers lacking basic skills that reach back to 5th or 6th grade topics. High School Fundamental Skills was designed as a separate Assessment to catch those missing skills without bogging down the Algebra Readiness Assessment for existing students. HSFS should be administered as an add-on Assessment for new students—existing students that come up through Assessment 7 typically would not take this Assessment.

We completed a very successful franchisee test of these new Assessments in which AR was given over 150 times and HSFS was given over 100 times.  The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, but as with any good test, there was some strong constructive criticism that we’re currently taking into account as we make revisions.  Action items include fine tuning legacy curriculum to better serve a high school audience, examining some topic strands for the reach into Algebra, and a reordering/reexamination of Assessment questions with a specific eye toward length of initial Assessments.

We are excited to share these two new Assessments with the system, and are hard at work fine tuning all the details—we anticipate release by the end of March. Keep watching Mathnasium Matters for more!