EPGY's math program -- at least the highly gifted version -- is probably a bit too fast for normal kids. It aims to cover K through 6th at a recommended rate of 2 grade levels per 2.5 quarters (approximately 7 to 8 months or nearly a full school year). My daughter has moved much faster because numbers and logic are one of her strengths. There are three elementary school courses:
- K through 2nd grade
- 3rd / 4th grade
- 5th / 6th grade
Acceleration, adaptability, and early introduction of "advanced" concepts are key features of EPGY. The strong emphasis on acceleration is supported by decades of research showing that gifted children learn faster and make deeper abstract connections than the population within two standard deviations from the mean IQ. Adopting an accelerated curriculum need not lead to early college admission, but it provides a way out of monotonous concepts such as arithmetic so more abstract topics can be tackled early and in great depth. In practice, acceleration works well with gifted children they require fewer drills than normal children. This opens access to increasingly sophisticated material earlier than would be possible otherwise.
Adaptability is single, biggest reason why I love EPGY and why systems like it should be become part of the mainstream education system. The online platform tracks progress across six different strands:
- Number Sense: Integers
- Number Sense: Decimals and Fractions
- Logic and Reasoning
I love EPGY's early introduction of "advanced" concepts. Ideas such as variables, equations, positive/negative numbers, proper survey design methodologies (i.e. avoiding leading questions, etc.), and statistical concepts surface as early as first and second grade. Early introduction could eliminate the shock suffered by many middle school students when confronted by these topics. Proper teaching techniques allow young children to understand what these things mean and how to use them. By the time second grade ends, variables and simple linear equations are second nature to EPGy students. I don't believe that the concept of variables is any more abstract that multiplication itself, but I have very little data to support my hypothesis (i.e. my daughter is my entire population). However, I believe that many children could handle at least some of the concepts if taught using appropriate techniques. Regardless of one's position on the early introduction of advanced concepts, some should be presented as early as possible. Some students will not understand what is going on, but many are likely to benefit greatly.
It turns out that I am not the only one who thinks that adaptive software has a place in "traditional" classrooms. EPGY conducted studies in California (click here for PDF of study) to determine the effectiveness of EPGY's variables as a predictor of performance on CST (i.e. California Standards Test). Clearly, the purpose of the study was to determine if there was a statistically significant correlation between performance in EPGY and CST. However, it was very instructive to see the impact the program had on Title I students. The bottom line is that the overall population sample benefited greatly. Furthermore, because EPGY maps into California standards, there would few, if any, legal repercussions if a school adopted EPGY. Finally, EPGY offers a school-wide option to use EPGY, as well as grants and financial aid for students with modest resources. This all means that there is little reason to avoid using computerized, adaptive systems, and EPGY is an excellent option.
I would advice parents of gifted children to look into EPGY (click here for the program's website). If money is an issue, apply for financial aid. Some homeschooling charters like the Sky Mountain Academy give you as much as $3,000 toward curriculum materials, and EPGY is one of the approved curriculum providers.
As always, I hope you find this useful.