I have been HSing for 12 years. My oldest, who will be in 12th grade this fall, has always been a math wiz. He used A Beka math up through 8th grade and then switched to Saxon for high school using Classical Conversations. For him, A Beka was great.
My daughters, now 13 & 11, were not so naturally gifted at math. I faithfully started them with A Beka because my plan all along was to buy the books once and only ever replace the student workbooks for my younger 3 children. They started alright, but struggled quite a bit. By the time my youngest took EOY tests after 3rd grade, she fell in the 16th percentile for math. Pretty low! Also, math time was a lot of tears and frustration. We started her 4th grade year with strong resolve to build her math skills, but by Christmas, I could see we weren't making the needed progress. In January, I chucked her 4th grade A Beka math and started her at the beginning of Saxon 5/4. I had her first read every lesson and then attempt the practice problems. If she got it, she moved on to the mixed practice problems. If she didn't, I went back through and explained the lesson to her. (I purposely try to have my children be as independant learners as possible. I don't want them to think they cannot learn without a teacher.) We also go back and rework mistakes. Yes... That can get old fast, but it works! (We still do it this way two years later.)
Well, she began to thrive. She began to believe she COULD do well at math. At the end of 4th grade she was only halfway through the 5/4 book, but her math test score went up to 38th percentile. By the end of this year (5th grade) we had made it almost completely through Saxon 6/5, and I just got her test scores. In math she scored in the 51st percentile!! I know that's not super high yet, but in 2 years she gained 35 percentile points!!! I expect this growth to continue! Rome wasn't built in a day, after all! :-) Now, the math outlook is much brighter to both of us!!
Regarding my older daughter, without going into as many details, from last year to this year, (this year she completed 8/7) she has gone from 32nd to 75th percentile. An even bigger gain!! (I am super pleased! I only gave more details for my younger daughter because I feel like she and I have been in the math trenches together. Though the numbers are smaller, the gain feels SO much bigger.)
I do NOT by any means think that standardized test scores are the "be all and end all" of math proficiency. For me, they are a window into long-term progress (or failure to progress), and they are practice for the bigger tests (ACT/SAT) that they will one day take. This is just one of the many ways I assess our progress.
I also tutor a class of HSing high schoolers in algebra using Saxon. I know people complain about the repetition, but I find that to be a large part of what makes Saxon excellent. I'm a firm believer that repetition is the mother of skill. My girls' test scores confirm what I've been witnessing at our dining room table for the last 2 years... Saxon works!! (but only if you work it). ;-)
This is the best homeschool math program I have ever used or seen. We were frustrated with another program and I ordered this one. I like that the text book is not hardbound and that the paper is thinner; otherwise the books would be heavy, and it would cost a lot more. I think for the value of the education and the product; the price point is good.
The main text clearly explains the lesson, then moves on to a small practice of the lesson, after each lesson and practice there is a mixed practice page of 26 problems. With the basic facts warm up practice, the lesson, the practice at the end of the lesson and a test weekly, it has been a winning combination for us. There is not too much daily work and not to little, this program is well thought out, and comprehensive. There are math topics in this curriculum that are sometimes poorly covered in others.
Saxon math is a true blessing to any parent that doesn't have the time to pull together an entire math curriculum. I also purchased the CD-ROM. Which is nicely ordered to follow the lessons in the book; honestly I could have lived without it, but when I am busy I let my child use the CD-ROM to listen to the lesson, it's a luxury that's nice if you can afford it.