The New Alpha Continuum

December 16, 2019

This year, we rolled out our new Academic Continuum. The continuum supports our mastery-based education model by using a student’s demonstrated comprehension rather than their age to match them to adaptive apps and academic content.

How does the continuum work?

Each student at Alpha is placed on the continuum on the basis of their MAP scores in math, reading, language, and science. We use the MAP test for placement because of its adaptive format and its alignment to the same curriculum standards used by our apps. The ultimate outcome is that a student is matched with the adaptive app that will allow them to master the concepts they are ready to tackle in each academic area.

Unlike traditional schools, age plays no part in the content and apps with which a student is matched. In mastery-based education, age doesn’t matter, comprehension does. In our system, there is no floor or ceiling on the content your child can work on. If their test results show they need to go back to basics in a subject, they will. If their results show they’re ready for advanced content, that’s what they’ll be matched with.

How does a student move along the continuum?

It’s simple: work through our adaptive apps. Out internal data analysis has shown that time spent on adaptive learning applications drives improvement in MAP scores. The equation makes sense: academic content personalized to the student’s comprehension + content alignment to the MAP test + deliberate practice = increased MAP scores.

Students move from one section of the continuum to the next only after demonstrating mastery of the topic they are currently on. For example, a student would move from Reading 3 to Reading 4 only after they have demonstrated that they have mastered 3rd-grade reading concepts in their academic apps and exceeded the 90th percentile for 3rd grade reading on the MAP test.

What are the goals of the continuum?

  1. Support our promise that kids learn 2x as fast. The continuum is a tool that enables us to find the best adaptive learning app for your child. We believe that adaptive apps enable every child to reach 90% of grade level. And we believe apps are so efficient at this that we only dedicate our mornings to core academic work.
  2. No age-based caps. Our academic continuum does not rely on age at all, meaning your student’s academic content will be determined based on what matters (their comprehension) rather than what doesn’t (their age).
  3. Be transparent. At most schools, the only data you will receive is whether your child is above, below, or at the average for their grade. At Alpha, we believe you should know exactly how your child is performing relative to their national peers. The continuum allows us to show you exactly where your child ranks in their academic comprehension in every core subject.