I like to quantify things as much as possible, so you know where you started, where you’re going, and what your progress is every step of the way. I like specific, measurable results so that you can see exactly what you’re getting for your time and money investment. To that end, I have the What’s Your Mastery Number? ™ system. I give you a number representation of the skills you have in the bag on the day of our initial Assessment. This is your Starting Mastery Number. And I give you another number representation of the ideal number you want to achieve, based on your specific goals. This is your Desired Mastery Number. Many people have a Mastery Number that seems alarmingly low. Don’t panic! I want to say five things about why a low Starting Number can actually be very encouraging news:

  • One. Everyone (who I’ve ever assessed) has a Mastery Number that is lower than ideal, even A students. I promise. I’ve seen it a thousand times. It is not possible for most students to really get this stuff without a method for practicing it to mastery.


  •  Two. By knowing about these principles of practice for skill-acquisition, and skill-retention, that the Math For Keeps (MFK) approach is based on, getting your Mastery Number higher is totally do-able. It can actually be fun and easy.


  • Three. Think how much easier your math studies will be when your number is higher…I mean no WONDER math feels like too much work if you don’t have the chops. The MFK practice-to-mastery system is a very efficient way to get the chops.


  • Four. When I assess a student for their Starting Mastery Number, I am ruthless. The student needs to know it, know they know it, and know it quickly, efficiently, and confidently. That’s what mastery is. That’s what fluency is. We’re going for fluency. That’s when you’re A becomes a sure thing. That’s when math starts to make sense. That’s when you can quit laboriously translating math and start really speaking it as a native speaker. (PS My brand of “ruthlessness” is insanely kind and encouraging.This is a very LOVING approach to learning math.)


  • Five. On my Basic Math Assessment, for example, the “105” that I say a 7th grader should have to ensure a successful experience in a traditional 7th grade class, includes all the skills a student should have learned starting around 3rd / 4th grade. So it’s about 5 years worth of skills, by school standards. The good news is it doesn’t take 5 years to close these kinds of gaps. I prioritize 40 skills per Mastery Number Plan, and grab the most important ones first.  This creates an upward spiral and the rest are easier to get once you start strengthening your foundation. The point here is don’t get overwhelmed by the 105, (or the 40 or 85 for Algebra)  Practicing even a small handful of these skills will start to have a profound effect on your math experience right away. 


Getting Your Mastery Number Higher:
There are many ways to get your Mastery Number higher. My program is just one of them. The beauty of Math For Keeps is that’s it’s predictable. It’s measurable. After a 12-week MFK course, your Mastery Number WILL be higher (typically 20-30 points higher, or 1-2 grade level’s worth) than it was when we started.  A higher Mastery Number WILL translate to an easier time in math, less time and struggle on homework, better grades, and–most importantly–a more thorough understanding of what you’re studying.