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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Pemberton Township High School, Pemberton Township School District
Pemberton, NJ

Grade(s): 9 - 12
Scenario: Laptop Carts
Purpose: Intervention, Enrichment/Gifted and Talented, Exit Exam, Supplement
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 10%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 1 hour per week, 30 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2

Susan Stupienski, Teacher
I was introduced to ALEKS while teaching developmental math at a community college. The program allowed a mainly adult student body learn and relearn basic mathematics and then basic algebra. For these students, it was a wonderful way to brush up on skills and also learn new skills. Now, as a high school teacher, I use ALEKS for both remedial Pre-Algebra and Honors Algebra II. The students like the fact that they don't have to listen to someone teach something they already know. The honors students in particular enjoy learning new topics before they are presented in class. From the middle to the end of the class, they have already been exposed to all topics in the course, which makes it easier to understand as I teach in class. Overall, I find ALEKS useful in both remedial and honors courses and the students enjoy working at their own pace and filling in their pie!


Scenario

What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
For lower-level students, some are strong in algebra, some in geometry, some know a little about a variety of topics. While using ALEKS, they work on the topics they need help with, not on ones they already understand. This keeps all students engaged and learning, not bored and causing distractions.

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?
20 minutes.


Implementation

How do you implement ALEKS?
I choose the topics that we cover in class and sometimes topics that were covered in a previous course. I set up quizzes that coordinate with what we are doing in class and allow them to work on any area of the pie allowed by ALEKS.

Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
I let ALEKS direct the learning in the pie, but I use the quiz feature to coordinate exactly what I am teaching in class. So before a quiz, students must do the quiz I have set up in ALEKS. This works well with my Honors Algebra II students.

How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
Depending on the class, ALEKS is used whenever a student is finished with classwork or a test. Some days they use it for most of the block period. They are expected to do about one hour per week both in and out of class. Some also come after school to work on it.

How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I sometimes use ALEKS for a full block and use it for a review by creating quizzes on topics I choose. For seniors that have failed the state test, I use the California high school exit exam course, which is similar to our New Jersey test, as a main part of the course. It allows me to see which topics they are all weak in and teach those topics, so it essentially guides my teaching for each class.

How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
On average, I require an hour per week and I check their time twice per marking period (four times a semester). Sometimes we work on ALEKS in class, but if we don't, students are still responsible for working in the program.

How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I send home a parent newsletter at the beginning of the semester explaining ALEKS and my rubric. I tell them that students can work in my room afterschool or in the library during study hall or at lunch. They sign the letter and most parents are supportive of their student working at home or during free time 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?
I set up a rubric for number of hours, amount of the pie that should be completed, and number of quizzes completed with a certain grade, which varies according to course. This is then counted as a homework grade.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
I use a rubric for grading. ALEKS is usually approximately 30 points out of a 300 point marking period, which is 10 percent of their grade for each marking period. The rubric is hours on ALEKS, percentage of their pie completed, and number of quizzes with a certain grade completed.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
I choose the percentage of the pie they should complete by how many topics we have covered in class. I usually schedule an assessment right before a rubric is graded.


Learning Outcomes

Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
For honors students, they are able to learn on their own and are able to progress through topics quickly. The difficult topics don't seem so challenging and, as a result, their test scores and class grades are higher than my previous classes without ALEKS. Additionally, most students enjoy working at their own pace and filling in their pie. I always know when students are using ALEKS correctly, because while teaching a new topic, they are enthused and find things easy because they "did this on ALEKS." They seem to feel a sense of accomplishment and power.


Best Practices

Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
Use the quiz feature to get a reading on how students are doing with the material taught in class. Encourage them to use the pie to learn new material, while also reviewing all material from the course (and previous courses, if possible).