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Accelerated Math® most commonly refers to a computer-based mathematics learning system for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, which is made by a company called Renaissance Learning. The computer software delivers customized, individualized math assignments to each student, which allows each child to move at his or her own pace. It is designed to monitor each student's progress and adjust to provide appropriately challenging math practice. The monitoring also allows teachers to easily keep track of student progress and provide additional support to students who need it. The data on effectiveness is mixed; a few small studies show that the use of the Accelerated Math® program improves student test scores, but others show that it does not significantly affect achievement.
In the modern classroom, children with wide levels of ability are often together. This can make math instruction difficult because some students learn at different speeds than others. A technique called differentiated instruction is supposed to allow teachers to provide instruction that meets students' individual needs, and Accelerated Math® was developed to assist with that task. As the name implies, the program allows students who learn quickly to move ahead at their own pace, but it also lets them move through the assignments at a slower rate if needed. Although the program was originally developed for the purpose of accelerating learning, many schools use it to provide leveled practice for all students.
After whole-class math lessons, students are able to complete assignments using the Accelerated Math® program that respond to their individual progress and learning needs. The teacher is able to review each student's progress and assign objectives on which the student can work. The student completes practice assignments and quizzes to demonstrate progress. If he or she is having difficulty, the program will generate added practice and the issues will be shown on a progress report for the teacher so that extra instruction or re-teaching can be provided. For students who accomplish objectives quickly, the teacher can allow them to move ahead and assign more challenging material.
The research on the effectiveness of Accelerated Math® is mixed. According to the Renaissance Learning website, many studies from various sources support the effectiveness of the program. Many of the school districts that use it report improved test scores, and several studies that compared classrooms using Accelerated Math® with those using other methods showed greater gains for those utilizing the program. In a significant counterpoint to this research, the What Works Clearinghouse, part of the Institute of Educational Sciences, found that the program did not have "discernible effects" on student achievement when the studies were evaluated according to United States Government standards.
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