View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
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Rogers High School, Spokane Public Schools
Grade(s): 9 - 12
Scenario: One-to-One Laptop Program
Purpose: After-School, Credit Recovery, Improve State Test Scores, Supplement
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 12%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 6 hours per week; 40 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Algebra 1, High School Geometry, Algebra 2
Suzi Shepard, Teacher
I run an afterschool program at my high school funded from a 21st century grant, whose program goals fall directly in line with our School Improvement Goal of increased graduation rates (we have been identified in the bottom 5 percent for our state). I tutor, assist, and befriend students working on credit retrieval in math. The program helps kids get back on-track in their credits in several subject areas. This is significant, because there is a high correlation (95 percent as ninth graders) between one failing a class, and not graduating on time or at all. The impact of ALEKS on student learning has been profound; kids who have failed a class, now voluntarily come in outside the school day to do more math work in order to get caught up. Last spring and summer, 21.5 semester credits were awarded; this year, over 34 semester credits have been awarded so far, with 19 students earning 9 semester credits each just in math. In total, over 300 kids have voluntarily accessed this afterschool and summer program since its inception one year ago.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
Our school has been identified as a failing school by both President Obama and the state. We are in the bottom 5% for on time graduation rates, and in AYP for failing to meet average yearly progress on state exams in mathematics.
How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
3 days per week.
What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
How do you implement ALEKS?
ALEKS is part of a 21st Century Grant at my school.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
After school Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for two hours.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
Kids need to be in attendance after school 30 times to be counted as part of the grant, per state rules. Because of this, kids need to work on ALEKS at school.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
The coordinator meets with all parents, and they sign a contract to commit to participate. Parents are called for each absence, as well as positive results and completion of credit retrieval. We also have parent and family nights two or three times a year, with food, prizes, and certificates of completion.
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?
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
40 hours is a passing grade. We agreed to use the same process as our summer school.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
No, but I prod the ones that are putting along and could go faster, and offer help to the ones that are super stuck on a topic. Many kids came from the integrated math program, and have gaps in algebra content.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
I have seen a renewed interest in doing mathematics for many kids. My program is an afterschool only program for credit retrieval, but I have been able to make stronger relationships with kids as a result of this program. They feel really good about being able to achieve instant success in math. The instant feedback on each problem keeps my kids motivated; the pie chart ensures my kids are in control of their own progress.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
Things that have worked well: letting kids go as fast as they want to; helping the kids when stuck to get through a tough topic; keeping positive relationships with kids, and giving them regular feedback on progress; allowing the kids to use graphing calculators; offering to give kids assessments on demand; using positive affirmation feedback strategies on a regular basis; and humor.