View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
Raton High School, Raton Public Schools
Grade(s): 9 - 12
Scenario: Computer Lab
Purpose: Intervention, Improve State Test Scores, At-Risk Students
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 40%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 1.5 hours per week, 45 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Mathematics - LV 5 (with QuickTables), Essential Mathematics (with QuickTables), Arithmetic (with QuickTables), Foundations of High School Math, Algebra 1, Algebra 2
Christalina Donovan, Math Department Chair
As a high school teacher I never would have figured out that my students were missing some 4th and 5th grade basic skills without ALEKS's testing and follow-up. Often there are just a few essential gaps, but the flexibility of elementary through high school content means each student can be working individually and be challenged at just his or her level. Using a 4th grade course from ALEKS, the students have all improved more than one year in math level, and several are nearing proficiency in 9th grade after one school year.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
Each student had unique deficiencies: some thought there were 100 minutes in an hour, a few had no concept of measurement units, and the vast majority had no understanding of fractions. Additionally, students were unwilling to attempt homework, had diversions rather than completing assignments, and sometimes shut down entirely with respect to math.
How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
2 days per week.
What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
How do you implement ALEKS?
It is an elective math course that is part study hall to complete work from the regular math class (to ensure passing and earning credit). In addition, I use direct instruction of math topics with students and we also use ALEKS twice a week.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
No, students pick their own topics to learn and review.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
I have 18 students out of which 14 of them are on ALEKS working in the computer lab. I can be called over for help individually but students must log on independently. Because these are high school students, I allow them to use calculators on all assignments, as they can use calculators in class and during our New Mexico Standards Based Assessment (NMSBA). Some students prefer to watch the explanation from ALEKS rather than have me try to explain it to them in person.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I am on the lookout for unexpected gaps in knowledge, possibly from prior years. One month of not hearing with an ear infection can cripple a students' understanding of that math topic for the rest of his school years.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
I only have one student who diligently works from home. He has learned so much that he was able to complete credit recovery at an accelerated rate.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I mention ALEKS on my school webpage with a link to a video, discuss it at school board meetings, and write about it in the newspaper report summary of board meetings.
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?
I grade for the amount of time spent on a task, the number of objectives mastered, and the effectiveness of time.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
I chart students individually, showing effort and time on task. I observe when they stall out and stare at their pie chart for 15 minutes rather than continuing to work, as well as by the class reports available. I also use a projector to share the individual growth (percent increase and days to meet target) with the entire class.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
Most of my students have seen more than one grade level increase in their math performance scores as measured by our district's short cycle assessment. Some of them enjoy the pie chart so much that they try to increase each area and keep each color filled in the same amount. If a student hates fractions, for example, I can see that that completed area of the pie is not growing and I target it by working one on one with the student.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
Peek to see the sections students are skipping, and then provide full-class lesson or individual tutoring to help them master difficult topics.