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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Aquin Jr./Sr. High School, Aquin Catholic Schools
Freeport, IL

Grade(s): 6 - 12
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 33%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 6 hours per week; 54 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Middle School Math Course 2, Pre-Algebra, High School Preparation for Algebra 1, Algebra 1, High School Geometry, PreCalculus

Rich Chang, Teacher
After conducting an anonymous survey of the students and their parents, 95 percent rated their experience with ALEKS as "highly satisfied" or better. With over 40 students using the ALEKS system as their core math class, we have seen our outstanding students excel and regain their enthusiasm for math and the students that have traditionally found math more challenging have thrived. It has been amazing to see a class full of students come to class, sit down, and immediately get to work without any hesitation or prodding from the teacher. The students are engaged and are willing to spend more time doing math work than if they were in a traditional classroom.


Scenario

What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
We faced the traditional challenge of pace. Being a small school, we could not have multiple offerings of a math course that is paced to fit a like group of students. Therefore, we risked boring our talented students and leaving our challenged students behind.

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

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


Implementation

How do you implement ALEKS?
We took our very talented students and our challenged students and recommended to their parents/guardians that they be placed in the ALEKS system. We started off by offering ALEKS over the summer, not for a grade, but to get the students and teachers used to the system, and to better prepare the students for the school year. Once the school year began, each student took a comprehensive assessment in their course and started their course from where ALEKS placed them.

Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
No. The students are able to move around their pies.

How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
Students use ALEKS 100 percent of the time. They take a progress assessment on Monday, then enter the Learning Mode for the remainder of the week.

How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
The teacher has become a "helper" rather than a lecturer.

How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
They are required to get three and a half hours in the classroom and average 30 minutes per night for six hours a week.

How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
We have an informational session at the beginning of summer to describe the ALEKS system, our approach, and how parents can/should work with their children and monitor progress. We then have discussions with each parent and student at the end of the first semester.


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 their complete math homework.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
Students receive three weekly grades and one final grade. The breakdown is as follows: hours per week equals 25 percent; topics mastered per hour equals 25 percent; relative progress (a ratio of how many concepts a student learns in a week to how many they have outstanding) equals 40 percent; and a final exam (comprehensive assessment) equals 10 percent.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Yes, students are measured on their weekly, relative progress. After their Monday progress assessment, we take their remaining concepts and students that learn 10 percent of their remaining concepts that week receive a 100 percent.


Learning Outcomes

Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
For the first time, the students feel completely in control of their progress and fully aware of where they are and what they need to do. I have noticed that, without exception, this control gives the students a higher stake in their own learning.


Best Practices

Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
When determining how to grade, make sure you use a "balanced scorecard" approach. Each measure you come up with must have a counter measure so the students don't learn how to "game" the system.  For example, we measure hours/week, but if we did not also measure topics mastered/hour, students could simply log into the system and stare at their computer.