What are Independent Math Courses?
Independent Math Courses (“IMCs”) are flexible, competency-based math courses. Here’s how they work:
- Student enrolls in IMC, and is given a list of all math topics students must master to successfully earn credit in the course
- Student uses curriculum of her choice to learn topics on the list. Students must learn on her own; Williamsburg does not provide any support at all (hence, the name “Independent Math Courses”)
- At any time during the semester, whenever student feels she has mastered all required topics, student takes a proctored, comprehensive assessment to prove her knowledge
- If student fails to pass the assessment, she has up to two additional attempts (i.e., she can take the competency assessment up to three times per semester)
For Whom are Independent Math Courses a Good Fit?
To determine whether these courses are right for you, consider that Independent Math Courses work well for two types of students:
- Students who have mastered or will master the topics of a given math course on their own and need a way to prove their mastery and earn high school credit;
- Self-directed students who have a strong preference for a specific math program (Saxon, Math–U–See, etc.), have already proven they are disciplined and have the ability to work independently, and want to prove their mastery and earn high school credit for their work.
Independent Math Courses are a recipe for failure for students who:
- Generally struggle learning math;
- Are inclined to procrastinate their math study;
- Have already failed at keeping a schedule that includes daily math practice;
- Do not have adequate support and accountability at home;
- Are not self-starters.
In some important ways, Independent Math Courses are more challenging than regular, live courses; they require students to demonstrate a higher degree of self-motivation and discipline than our live courses.
Note: Self-paced courses are another option for students. These are good for students who want a support system (i.e., a mentor, peers, and accountability), but cannot attend live class sessions due to scheduling conflicts. Self-paced courses are different from Independent Math Courses in that students in self-paced courses use the Williamsburg math curriculum, and are supported by a Williamsburg math mentor.
If you are unsure whether Independent Math Courses are right for you, do all you can to figure it out at the beginning of the semester so you can succeed and it does not distract you from other courses.
Details About How Independent Math Courses work
If you have already mastered the math level for which you registered, you can request to take the proctored competency exam at the beginning of the semester, or at any time during the semester. You have up to three attempts at the test. If you earn at least an 70%, you will receive credit for the course! Your letter grade will correspond to your score on the exam.
If you do not yet have the content mastered, you will receive a detailed syllabus that shows you all the math topics that are part of the competency exam. You need to create your own system, using the math program of your choice, to master those topics.
Throughout the semester, you can get 1:1 help any time! Just log into the Williamsburg Math Lab and get as much personalized help as you need from a Williamsburg tutor.
What support does Williamsburg provide to students taking Independent Math Courses? What is expected of students and parents?
Unlike other Williamsburg courses, Williamsburg mentors and administrators do NOT monitor your progress in Independent Math Courses. Because of Williamsburg’s limited involvement in Independent Math Courses, students and families are entirely responsible for the following:
- Finding a curriculum or program for learning the topics covered in each competency exam;
- Ensuring alignment between the topics covered in the exam, as outlined above, and the topics students study in their own curriculum or program;
- Monitoring student pace to ensure successful completion of the course within the required semester deadlines;
- Finding a qualified proctor who agrees to proctor the exam (i.e., a non-relative adult who can be present for the entire assessment and verify the authenticity of student work)