The idea for Jiayuan Fang’s learning center business, Afficient Academy, was born when the electrical engineer realized that his children’s progress wasn’t effectively being measured at their after-school tutoring program.
“(When) they gave you the next week’s worksheets, they do not know how well you did in the previous week,” Fang said of a nationally known after-school program. “The feedback is very slow. So when they figure out how you do, they give you additional worksheets to repeat it several weeks later.”
That’s how Fang developed the framework for Afficient Academy – using modern technology to track students’ progress so that they can efficiently build on what they know and improve on what they don’t.
In 2016, Fang opened his first location in San Jose. In December, he opened his fifth – a Los Altos location nestled adjacent to Rancho Shopping Center.
Fang said he decided to come to Los Altos because he knew how much people valued their education here.
“Even with good schools, a lot of people come (to Afficient Academy) because the school itself cannot individualize,” he said. “Some people, they are left behind. They need to build the foundation, and some people can’t do (that) faster than the school’s pace.”
Afficient Academy is all computer-based, unlike traditional after-school tutoring programs that use worksheets. Fang said the system enables students to immediately correct mistakes, which can lead to fewer errors on similar problems in the future. Students can do most of the work from their computers at home, but Afficient Academy is also open three days a week so that students can come in and receive help from the learning center’s teachers.
“Typically people spend two to four months completing one grade level,” Fang said, pointing to student progress charts on the wall revealing that many of them excel at concepts far above their grade level.
Afficient Academy currently offers math for students in grades 2-11, and Fang said they plan to roll out an English program soon.
Los Altos resident Michelle Wang began sending her second-grade son to Afficient Academy’s Los Altos location approximately a month ago because he was interested in learning new concepts such as multiplication and division that were not yet being taught in his class at school.
“He’s always up for a challenge when it comes to math,” Wang said of her son. “We’ve tried Khan Academy and some other things at home, but (we weren’t) able to track his progress very easily. Afficient Math seemed to take a lot of the guesswork out of what my son knew already … so we can focus on skills he hadn’t yet mastered.”
Wang said her son has enjoyed his experience at Afficient Academy thus far – especially when it comes to the learning center’s reward system that allows students to earn tokens, and eventually prizes, for their progress.
“He has his eye on the Kindle Fire,” Wang said of her ambitious son.
Afficient Academy is located at 1144 Riverside Drive, Los Altos. Hours are 3-7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturdays. For more information visit afficienta.com/los-altos.