View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
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Waynesboro High School, Waynesboro Public Schools
Grade(s): 9 - 12
Scenario: Computer Lab, Laptop Carts
Purpose: At-Risk Students
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 95%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 7.5 hours per week, 150 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Foundations of High School Math, High School Preparation for Algebra 1, Algebra 1
Anthony Tyler, Teacher
Overall, we are quite pleased with our ALEKS experience. We noticed a disturbing trend of students at our high school performing poorly when they lacked the proper mathematics background. ALEKS allows each student to work on the skills that they need the most help on. We have consequently seen a majority of the students go on to be successful in other math classes. We have found that ALEKS allows the students to be successful because they are finally working on material that they can handle and, consequently, their confidence with math is growing. One telling statement that a student said to me this year was "I learned everything I know about math in this class." Since ALEKS, we feel strongly that our at-risk students are well on their way to graduating from high school. The amount of progress made in such a short time period is incredible.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
The set of students we placed in ALEKS have historically performed poorly in high school. While we are unable to predict their future success right now, we are all confident that they are much more likely to graduate on time as a result of ALEKS. Furthermore, we found that in the traditional classroom, the students who previously used ALEKS performed better than their non-ALEKS peers, even when the non-ALEKS students performed better in mathematics in the past.
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?
How do you implement ALEKS?
We have a new course designed for ALEKS that we call Foundations of Algebra. It has replaced our previous Algebra 1/Part 1 class. We feel that students will be more successful in Algebra 1 if we build their foundation up rather than the previous method of teaching Algebra over two years.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
We put the kids through three different ALEKS courses. We don't attempt to have the students go through things in a particular order, but rather let them choose their own topics.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
We use the ALEKS curriculum during the entire class period. Students come in and work on ALEKS. The teacher roams and sometimes pulls students or groups of students out to work on certain topics using a different method. It's not unusual to see a couple of students working at the board on some things, seven students on computers, and another one working on paper.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
It's completely different from my regular approach. I didn't do any actual lessons as I do in my other class. Students never took notes, and they didn't have a notebook. The class atmosphere was much different than what I am used to.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
We encourage them to work at home often, but only a few actually do it.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
We send a letter home to parents at the beginning of the year, and we also send one home during report cards. We use their progress in ALEKS to determine whether they move on to the next class or not. Consequently, our grading method was a bit different from that of a typical class.
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 done mainly during class time. There is no homework.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
We put the students through two math courses (three for those who finished the two early). Students who received a 60% or better in the ALEKS program were assigned a C- for the course, 70% got them a B-, and 80% got them an A-. Anything under 60% was assigned an incomplete at the end of the first semester, and students were placed into the same class for the second semester. If at the end of the second semester students still were under 60% on the Foundations of High School Math pie chart, then they were given an F.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Each day we assigned them a target. This target was different for each student depending on where they were at. In general, students further behind had a bigger target than those who were ahead since the earlier lessons should go a bit more quickly.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
We placed 38 students into the ALEKS program at the beginning of the year. Of these, 28 were deemed able to succeed in an Algebra 1 class about halfway through the year, so we moved them to a traditional math class. Of the remaining ten students, six of them will be prepared for Algebra 1 next year. This percentage of 34 out of 38 students is incredible when we look at how many of these students were successful prior to our ALEKS implementation. All of these students failed previous Standards of Learning (SOL) tests in math, and were truly an at-risk bunch. Since ALEKS, we feel strongly that these students are well on their way to graduating from high school. The amount of progress made in such a short time period is incredible, and students have enjoyed the feeling of finally being successful in math (since ALEKS places them in a spot appropriate for them).
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
I would recommend keeping class sizes low and/or having an instructional aide to assist in the classroom.