So I've seen it recommended to take the placement test, if available, for a curriculum before buying. That seems like solid advice, especially since my son will be transitioning from ps to hs and I need to see exactly where he is.
I've chosen Math Mammoth so I had him take their end of year for 3rd grade (as he is in 4th and I will be ordering 4th). He made a 65!!!! They recommend a student make between 70-80 % before moving onto the next level (using one's own judgment for careless errors and/or temporarily forgot vs lack of understanding). The thing is, he makes all A's at school and never really has any problems in math.
Now, to be fair, this is Christmas break and he wasn't exactly thrilled to have to take a long test while on break. Although I did break it up into several sections, it is entirely possible that at least some of it was attitude (and ready to get back to his new xbox Minecraft game *sigh*) A few things were careless mistakes, but not many.
The way the word problems were done was also different than what he is used to. He kept saying they sounded weird. I pulled out some of his current math work from school to compare them. What I noticed, was that the MM used more multi-step problems than his current work. He's used to word problems where he simply pulls the pertinent information out of it, and creates a simple equation with it. Only occasionally does anything require 2 steps. Almost all of MM's did. Also, MM had more emphasis on order of operations. From what I could tell, he's never done that at all.
There were things that have never to my knowledge been covered at school. If they were, it was quite briefly and this really angers me. I know that each program is different, some being more or less advanced than others, which of course would translate into being more or less advanced than the equivilent ps grade.
So many things I would have honestly thought he understood, he doesn't appear to. I really feel let down at what he has been taught. I never felt like his education was that inferior, but honestly, this makes me wonder. To be fair though, when I was in school, I could memorize something well enough to take a test, then forget it shortly thereafter. I'm wondering if he is the same way. He gets it while it's being taught, then poof, lets it go.
I am going to go ahead and order the 4th grade curriculum, as I can work on strengthening those weaker areas and he picks up things quickly. I know I will definitely have to watch carefully for what he has or has not previously been taught, and pay close attention to how much he is retaining. I also know I need to keep a very close watch on his little sister and what she is learning at ps (and probably make sure to incorporate some after schooling with her). Overall, a very eye opening experience.