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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Oliver Elementary School, Stamford Independent School District
Stamford, TX

Grade(s): K - 5
Scenario: Computer Lab, Computers in Classroom, Laptop Carts
Purpose: RtI, Enrichment/Gifted and Talented, After-School, Improve State Test Scores
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 25%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 1.5-3 hours per week; 30-60 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Mathematics - LV 3 (with QuickTables), Mathematics - LV 4 (with QuickTables), Mathematics - LV 5 (with QuickTables), QuickTables

Susan Mueller, Principal
I believe ALEKS has played an important role in the academic success of our campus. Our fifth grade students began using ALEKS as part of a pilot program in Spring 2007. After using the program only a few weeks prior to testing, 83 percent of our fifth graders passed their math Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) and 30 percent were commended. After conducting our campus needs assessment, the decision was made to implement the program campus-wide. Our mobility rate is high, and we found that many students had gaps in their math skills. ALEKS has become an important tool in our RtI (Response to Intervention) process, and is being used to remediate tier two and three students. The more we use the program, the more we realize the real value of the ALEKS program. The program is designed to help each child meet their full potential, whether that student is a struggling learner or a high achieving, gifted and talented student. For the past couple of years, ALEKS has been used along with our state adopted text to ensure our students in grades 3-5 master the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) math standards mandated for their grade level. Last spring, we had 100 percent of our fifth grade students pass the math portion of the TAKS, and 61 percent scored at the commended level. At our school, we set high expectations for our students, and provide the teaching and support to help students reach those expectations. As a result, our school has gone from being an acceptable-rated school, to a recognized school, and now, an exemplary campus. This past fall, the Texas Education Agency nominated our campus as one of 26 campuses in the state to be nominated for a Blue Ribbon School Award. ALEKS has played an essential role in the academic success of this campus.


Scenario

What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
Our campus has a high mobility rate - 28 percent in 2010. We have had 65 students move in or out in the past 12 weeks. This is a challenge we seem to face each and every year. In addition, we have many students with Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD/ADHD). These students have trouble staying focused and often tend to miss skills being taught. ALEKS provides a tool to help us assess each student, find missing skills, and provide each child with an individualized program aimed at meeting their individual needs.

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

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


Implementation

How do you implement ALEKS?
ALEKS is used to remediate those who have gaps in their learning and help them develop missing skills. It is also used to enhance learning for those who are ready to move beyond the basics of grade-level skills. Students are allowed to move to the next grade level and expand their skills when they master current grade-level skills.

Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
Sometimes, but not usually. Since ALEKS is designed to meet the individual needs of our students, students are usually allowed to work on any lesson in the pie. It is not unusual for a teacher to have students focus on a particular objective, especially after benchmark data becomes available and teachers know what objectives students have not mastered in preparation for their state assessment. At times, the teacher may have all students complete a lesson to reinforce a skill studied in class or to reteach a concept that the class seemed to struggle with.

How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
Third and fifth grades go to the computer lab at least one day a week for their math class. Fourth grade has a 45 minute class period each day that is used for math, reading, and writing instruction. All classrooms have 3-4 student computers, so often students are allowed to work on ALEKS at various times of the day. The lab is also open each morning at 7:30am, and students are allowed to use the lab after school during extended day.

How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
Teachers do not modify their regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS. ALEKS is used to supplement instruction, not replace it.

How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
Goals are set for various times of the year. Students who fail to meet those goals are required to work before or after school or attend flex days built into the school calendar. Incentives are provided for students who attain grade-level goals.

How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
We hold parent nights to try and educate parents on the tools available to their children and the importance of the programs we use. Parents are sent reports and school goals. Parents have seen the success we have had as a campus and usually offer support whether it is having their child work on the program at home or allowing their child to come early or stay late to work on the program at school.


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 not assigned as homework, since many students do not have access to a computer at home.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
Students are given grades according to how well they have met the goals set for completion of the program. For example, if a teacher says 30 percent of the program should be completed by Thanksgiving, students are given a grade according to how close they are to that percentage.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Students are not required to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS. Progress is monitored, and students who are not making continual progress are addressed.


Learning Outcomes

Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
Our campus has gone from an "acceptable" rating to an "exemplary" rating, according to our state accountability system. We have gone from 83 percent of our students in grades 3-5 meeting the passing standard in mathematics to 98 percent this past year - or 99 percent using Texas Projection Measures (TPM). Our fifth graders just received results from their first administration of the 2011 Math TAKS and 97 percent passed, with 58 percent commended. The second administration of that test is the one that is used for our accountability rating. Our students have a chant they say, that includes "Good, better, best..." They realize the role ALEKS plays in helping them achieve their BEST and reach their goals, and they feel very good about that role.