Another Look at CTCMath (Crew Review)
CTCMath is an online math program with over a thousand lessons for Kindergarten through high school. At the elementary levels, it can be used as a complete math curriculum, though the higher levels are intended to be used for tutoring purposes alongside a full curriculum. Students have access to every lesson of every grade level, so they can target specific concepts they are struggling to understand.
At each grade level, lessons are grouped by subject and broken down into a series of menus. Diagnostic tests (available with 20, 30, or 40 questions) are available to show how much the students know about that subject before they begin those particular lessons. The tests can also be used after completing all the lessons in that subject to show how much they have understood.
Each lesson consists of a short video teaching followed by a set of questions (usually about ten.) While the students can work completely independently and click on whatever lesson they want, parents can also assign specific lessons for the student to complete. They can also pull up various reports to check their students progress. (Reports can be downloaded or printed as well.)
The summary report shows which lessons have been completed, the student’s average score for each subject, and scores on any diagnostic tests completed at a particular grade level.
A detailed report is also available, which shows how many times the student attempted the lesson, how they did on various attempts, and how many attempts it took to pass that subject. (The default “pass” level is 80%, but parents can change this if desired.)
To practice math facts, there are also “speed skills,” which allow them to see how many facts (all four operations) they can complete in a minutes, and “Times Tables Shoot ‘Em Up,” a game that gets in extra multiplication practice.
We have used CTCMath in various ways over the years, sometimes as a supplement, other times as our sole curriculum, and there are so many things great things about it. The video lessons are easy for the boys to understand and I love that they can work independently. It’s also really helpful to have access to all the grade levels, because at times I’ve had both of them working either ahead of their current grade level or going back to an earlier grade to review. Their homeschool family subscriptions also make it a great value for families like ours with lots of children who need a math program.
One thing I would love to see added would be a way for parents to go in and change a score. There have been several times my boys have known the right answer but then their fingers slipped and they accidentally typed something wrong. It throws off their whole average and they get really upset. (They were especially frustrated this time around because they’ve gotten used to our current curriculum where I can go in and alter the grade book in such instances.)
This summer I chose to make it a supplement to our main math program. In the past I have felt like CTCMath gives my boys a bit too much freedom because there’s not a set sequence for the lessons. They can choose whatever lesson they want (unless I want to set assignments for each of them). That’s great for keeping their skills up in the summer, and it makes it really easy to find the extra help they need on specific concepts. However it also means that they can get through all the addition lessons and then not touch on addition for weeks or even months as they go through other concepts for the year. I have found that they really need more frequent review, so for us CTCMath works best as a supplement while we use a core curriculum with a”spiral” approach, where the boys are continually practicing concepts they have already learned. However, CTCMath is perfect for giving the boys extra practice on concepts that they haven’t quite mastered, and having the videos to explain things in slightly different words sometimes makes a real difference. It’s definitely going to be an important tool for us this year in making sure the boys have a solid math foundation before trying to build any further.