ALEKS - Assessment and Learning

Implementation Strategies

View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes. 

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Punahou School
Honolulu, HI

Grade(s): K - 12
Scenario: One-to-One Laptop Program
Purpose: Supplement
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 40%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 1-6 hours per week, 15 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Mathematics - LV 5 (with QuickTables)

Angel Church, Teacher
I have found that integrating ALEKS with the whole class, along with other methodologies that address different types of learners, has been our most successful approach. Students love that their homework is individualized to what they are ready to learn. Their test scores have risen, along with their confidence. I also feel that for the first time we are challenging our gifted students.


Scenario

What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
Our grade level had difficulty covering the entire math curriculum.

How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
4 days per week.

What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
15 minutes.


Implementation

How do you implement ALEKS?
I integrate ALEKS with the Everyday Math program. Initial lessons are given in class, along with periodic lessons throughout the year. Students primarily use ALEKS as homework instead of the math boxes used in the Everyday Math program. As my students' enthusiasm with ALEKS has spread, parents of other students have asked to use ALEKS with their child. 

Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
Yes. We cover topics in ALEKS as they are presented in the Everyday Math program.

How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
Students work on ALEKS as they first come into the classroom. This allows me to help individual or groups of students with areas they may have questions about. I have a whole class lesson, which includes manipulatives, peer tutoring, games, and computer lessons. Students who finish early are encouraged to work on ALEKS.

How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
Instead of giving the Everyday Math boxes and study links as homework, students use ALEKS. Initially, I asked students to improve a minimum of three percent a week. Some students accelerated rapidly and improved much more, so I became concerned that the gap between the higher and the lower students would be much greater. Once the classroom had a critical mass of 40 percent mastery of grade level skills or above, I changed the criteria to a minimum of a certain total percentage for the week. Students who are above the percentage work on ALEKS as homework for 15 minutes that night.

How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
Students are required to work on QuickTables two times per week and ALEKS three times per week.

How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I show ALEKS to parents at Open House. I also create PDF pages of each student's ALEKS report that I send home once a quarter. I let parents know if their child is not using ALEKS when it is assigned as homework.


Grading

Is ALEKS assigned to your students as all or part of their homework responsibilities? If so, what part of the total homework load is it?
ALEKS is 90 percent of the math homework I assign.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
I break down the year into percentages and grade students based on if they are meeting, exceeding, or working toward expectations. ALEKS is 40 percent of the curriculum and it accounts for 40 percent of their grade. Another 50 percent of the grade comes from tests and 10 percent comes from other sources, such as worksheets and participation.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
I do require regular amounts of progress in ALEKS. I initially required three percent improvement per week, but my faster students were speeding ahead of the slower students. Once the class hit a critical mass of 40 percent mastery of grade level skills, I changed the criteria to either meeting a total minimum requirement for the week, or working a minimum of 15 minutes on ALEKS three times per week.


Learning Outcomes

Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
Students' test scores have risen, along with their confidence. I also feel that for the first time we are challenging our gifted students. Students love ALEKS! The following are typical comments I hear from students: "I personally think ALEKS is a wonderful program. This is the first year that I scored a 99 percent on two math tests, and the reason why I did score this was because I studied with ALEKS! ALEKS is very educational and I've learned a lot of things in math that I probably wouldn't have learned as quickly if I just learned it in our math books;"  "I think ALEKS is a great program. One of the things that I like to do on ALEKS is QuickTables because it helps refresh my brain and now I remember math facts better."


Best Practices

Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
If you see that a student isn't improving, try to find the cause. Is it because s/he has poor time management, poor computer skills, doesn't understand the explanation, etcetera? Praise students for reaching the goals you set and encourage them to set their own goals.