Introducing SuccessMaker Math


SuccessMaker Math is a highly-visual, engaging, and interactive standards-based course designed to develop and maintain fundamental concepts taught in K–8 mathematics. SuccessMaker uses diagnostic sessions called Initial Placement (IP) to determine the student’s starting level. Students’ progress through the content via the following types of presentation:

  • Mixed Presentation – SuccessMaker accomplishes individualized instruction by the random selection of content strands within a specific level. Learning objects have carefully defined parameters that randomly generate numbers and graphics. The resulting collection of content provides enough variety during a session that students rarely see the same combinations of strands, numbers, and graphics repeated.
  • Interaction – SuccessMaker Math uses a variety of interaction type including drag and drop, drop down, drawing, number entry, and multiple choice (single and multiple select).
  • Feedback – Students receive feedback that changes depending on whether their answers are correct or incorrect. They also receive rewards as they advance through the course.
  • Animation – Nine animated themes that include introductory animations and animated characters guide students through the course.
  • Tutorials – SuccessMaker calls up step-by-step instruction on certain content when Adaptive Motion determines it is needed.
  • Speed Games – In addition to teaching learning with understanding, SuccessMaker Math provides Speed Games to build fluency with math skills.

Students gain mastery through the application of a weighted performance formula that examines patterns of response

While based on the principles and standards recommended by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), SuccessMaker Math has been updated to more closely match the standards and the content order of the Common Core State Standards.

General Pedagogy

The content and structure of the SuccessMaker Math is based on the principles and standards recommended by National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) while ensuring students encounter instruction at the right grade level.

The NCTM and the Pearson advisory boards of well-respected experts in the field of teaching mathematics education recommend that students acquire mathematical content and processes through interaction with a rich and wide variety of engaging problem situations. SuccessMaker Math includes virtual manipulatives in real-world contexts for problem solving.

While NCTM advises the importance of “learning with understanding”, NCTM also strongly advocates the need for “computational fluency”. Mathematical experts contend that without the ability to compute accurately and effectively, students’ ability to solve complex problems is severely impaired. SuccessMaker Math provides students with opportunities to engage in contextualized problems that help them make the connection between computations and their applications.

Initial Placement

Initial Placement (IP) is designed to select a starting level for each student to ensure the student works at an appropriate level. If the IP setting is turned off, the student is directly launched into the SuccessMaker Math default course at the demographic enrollment level selected by the teacher. Custom by skills and custom by standards courses, such as a College and Career Readiness grade level course created by a teacher, do not leverage IP since the goal is for students to work on grade-level content.

When the IP setting is turned on, the student’s progress is monitored for up to the first 150 exercises during the initial execution of the course and uses that information to place the student at a level that is neither too easy nor too difficult.

After every 30 questions during IP, SuccessMaker Math judges the student’s performance at the current level. One of three decisions can occur as a result of these judgment points:

  • If the student performs well, the student’s current level moves up half of a grade level in order to challenge the student. This movement continues until the student changes direction or completes IP.
  • If the student does not perform well, the student’s current level moves down half of a grade level in an effort to better identify the functional level of the student. This movement continues until the student changes direction or completes IP.
  • If the student is functioning with an average performance at the current level, the level will be maintained for another set of 30 exercises after which another judgment is made. At any time a student completes two consecutive sets of 30 exercises with no movement, IP is complete.

When the student’s level is adjusted in the same direction, adjustment is in broad increments. When the adjustment level changes direction, the increments decrease by half to become more refined until IP is complete.

Upon completion of IP, the student is immediately entered into instruction at the IP level. The student has no notification that IP is complete and, if completed in the middle of a session, the session continues until the student signs out or the session time ends. Teachers can access reports showing progress in IP.

Initial Placement Illustration

Interpreting the Initial Placement Illustration

All four students are fourth graders as evidenced by their starting level in IP.

  • First student (green line): This student performed very well during the first 60 exercises where two decisions were made to move the student up by .50 grade level. At level 5.0, the student performed at an average rate for the next 60 exercises during which two judgments kept the student working at the same level. With no movement forward or backward for two consecutive sets of 30 exercises, IP has compiled enough data to surmise that the student should be working at the current level. Thus, the student whose progress is designated by the green line has completed IP at level 5.00 and will begin coursework at this level.
  • Second student (blue line): This student accelerated during the first set of exercises, thus, the judgment moved the student’s level up by .50 grade level. During the next 30 exercises the student’s progress declined, so the judgment moved the student’s level down. Since the student’s level changed directions, the movement increment was decreased by half. Thus, the student moved down by .25 level. At the 60-exercise judgment, the student’s progress changed direction yet again, cutting the Adaptive Motion increment in half. Therefore, the judgment moved the student’s level up by .125 level. The student moved up again at the 90-exercise judgment leaving the Adaptive Motion direction unchanged. Being unchanged, the Adaptive Motion increment was .125 yet again. At the completion of IP, the student moved up .125 level once more making the student’s completion level 4.62. The student will begin coursework at this level.
  • Third student (yellow line): This student did not progress well during the first 30 exercises and the first judgment moved the student’s level down by .50 grade level. The student’s progress was much better in the next 30 exercises and warranted upward movement. Since the direction had changed, the judgment moved the student’s level up by .25 level. The student’s work in the course declined during the next 30 exercises, so the judgment moved the student’s level down. Since this was another change in direction, the student’s level declined by .125, which is half of the Adaptive Motion increment of the previous 30 exercises. In the set of exercises prior to the fourth judgment, the student’s performance improved. Since this was another change in direction, the upward Adaptive Motion increment was cut in half to .0625. During the last 30 exercises, the student’s performance remained average. As a result, the student’s level remained unchanged and at the final judgment during the completion of IP, the student was working at level 3.68. The student will begin coursework at this level.
  • Fourth student (red line): Similar to the third student (yellow line), this student did not progress well during the first 30 exercises and the student’s level moved down by .50 grade level during the first judgment. The student’s progress did not change and the second judgment moved the student down by another .50 level since the student’s movement had not changed direction. The student’s performance became better, consequently, the level moved up by .25 during the next judgment. The student’s progress declined yet again, so the judgment changed direction and moved the student’s level down .125. The student’s progress declined once more, resulting in another downward movement of .125 level. The student completed IP at level 3.00 and will begin coursework at this level.

Adaptive Motion Learning Model

SuccessMaker’s Adaptive Motion directs each student’s path through the content. Skill objectives within and across strands are organized into a Mixed Presentation sequence of skill objectives.

  • Initial Placement (IP) motion finds the student’s appropriate level in the course. This level is suitable for learning, neither too easy nor too difficult.
  • The proportion of instruction across concept areas is adjusted for the individual so that weaker areas receive more emphasis, thereby, reducing the gap between the student’s areas of relative weakness and strength.
  • Mastery decisions are based on the probability of the student answering the next exercise correctly, not merely on the student’s current percentage of correct answers. The courseware, thereby, responds more quickly to student understanding, resulting in a more efficient use of the student’s time.
  • Personalized intervention guides individual student learning. When the student encounters difficulties, the system employs various instructional strategies, including sequential practice within the areas of difficulty, presentation of brief tutorials, and/or review of prerequisite material.
  • Dynamic sequencing of content adjusts to the individual student. When the student experiences repeated difficulties with new material, the material is set aside (delayed) for subsequent presentation. The goal is to challenge the student without frustrating him, and thereby to keep him engaged in the courseware.
  • By periodically checking the student’s recollection of previously mastered material, the system assures the student’s firm basis for further learning.
  • The time a student requires to achieve specified gains is estimated and reported to the teacher. The estimate is initially based on the data from past users of the courseware. Then, as the system analyzes the individual student’s rate of progress, it adjusts that estimate. The courseware thus constitutes a learning system that adapts to the individual student. The curriculum structures, Adaptive Motion algorithms, and reporting functions that make this possible are designed to engage the student and assist the teacher. These product features are the consequence of continuous model refinement based on a sustained program of research.

Adaptive Motion Instructional Model

Intervention Cycle

The Intervention Cycle of Adaptive Motion eliminates the random aspects of ordered navigation decisions by weighing the course content, the student, and the student's struggles. The Intervention Cycle can be entered a total of three times and includes the following instructional strategies:

  • Sequential Practice: During Sequential Practice, Mixed Presentation stops and the student receives more exercises of the same type before Adaptive Motion determines the next move.
  • Tutorials: The Intervention Cycle offers step-by-step tutorials and scaffolded tutorials. Tutorials provide instructions on how to complete an exercise or they can give the student opportunities to experience the skill in another context.
  • Step-by-step tutorials: Lead the student through three instances of exercises that meet the objective. This guided practice provided in 100 step-by-step tutorials helps to solidify concepts and problem-solving procedures.

  • Scaffolded tutorials: Help the student learn a concept by moving the student from concrete activities to more abstract problem solving. Scaffolded tutorials also include an Adaptive Motion that determines if the student needs to be moved back to a more concrete presentation. In Scaffolded Tutorials, the students are presented two three-step problems to help to teach a concept:

    Step 1: The student is presented a problem similar to the concept of the skill objective in which they are struggling.

    Step 2: If the student answers incorrectly, the program assumes that the student needs to have problem simplified or restated.

    Step 3: If the student answers incorrectly again, the program moves the student into a third step that presents the instruction with concept-building, hands-on activities. This final step relies heavily on virtual manipulatives and visual models.

  • Prerequisite Skill: The student then receives exercises from a Prerequisite skill to reinforce understanding of the current skill.

After intervention, the skill is placed back into the mix of exercises being presented through Mixed Presentation. The student has another opportunity in a set of 6–8 exercises to show understanding of the skill.

  • If understanding is proven, the skill is marked Mastered (complete) and the student moves on.
  • If understanding is not proven, the skill can be placed into Delayed Presentation and enter the Intervention Cycle up to three times.

Mastery Assessment

SuccessMaker Math follows the basic philosophy of a probability-based assessment (the likelihood that the student will get the next question correct). If this likelihood is higher than a certain threshold value, then the student is judged to have Mastered the objective. When assessing mastery, the formula explicitly weighs the following factors:

  • Pattern of correct/incorrect answers giving the greatest weight to the most recent responses
  • Likelihood of a lucky guess
  • Difficulty of the exercise
  • Significance of the exercise (the degree of relatedness to a terminal objective)

Course Content and Organization

SuccessMaker Math is organized by strands, concepts, topics, and skill objectives (learning objects) for grade levels K–8. Intervention elements are attached to skill objectives.

Instructional Strands

SuccessMaker Math’s Adaptive Motion works with a scope and sequence structure based on 16 strands of math instruction.

Math Instructional Strands
  • Addition
  • Applications
  • Decimal
  • Division
  • Equation
  • Fraction
  • Geometry
  • Measurement
  • Multiplication
  • Number Concepts
  • Probability & Statistics
  • Problem Solving
  • Science Applications
  • Speed Games (Fluency)
  • Subtraction
  • Word Problems

Speed Games

The Fluency strand employs “Speed Games”, which enable students to practice their basic math skills in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. These exercises build automaticity, allowing students to readily access math facts. The Fluency (Speed Games) strand covers content for grades 2–8, containing a total of 70 exercise sets of 20 facts each.

A score on the screen reports the cumulative score after each correct response. The points received for each correct answer depend on the speed of the student’s response.

The stars earned denote the number of times the student has answered a sequence of 5 correctly in a row.

The character that appears will be random from the age-group that the student belongs to. The character will not necessarily be the character that the student recently chose to go through their LOs with them. See Themes and Characters for more information on character selection.

Scope and Sequence

Although SuccessMaker Math is designed as a self-contained curriculum, you can also customize the content of courses to focus intervention or complement your existing curriculum. You can preview the skill objectives and create custom courses in the LMS. See “Managing Courses” in the SuccessMaker Online Assistance for more information.

Supplemental scope and sequence guides are also available on the SuccessMaker 9 Announcements and Resources site to help you customize course content.



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