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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Green Mountain High School, Jeffco Public Schools
Lakewood, CO

Grade(s): 9 - 12
Scenario: Computer Lab
Purpose: Credit Recovery
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 90-95%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 3 hours per week, 40-45 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Algebra 1, High School Geometry

Christie Davis, Teacher
We offer a Geometry credit recovery option with ALEKS to students during the school day. All students are juniors or seniors who had previously failed one or both semesters of Geometry in some other format. Seniors need the course in order to graduate from high school this year. Juniors need the course for credit but also to be able to advance to Algebra 2 next year. Most of these students had failed Geometry before due to lack of effort. Since this course was conducted in a computer lab with about 15 students per one teacher, it was easy to monitor students, keep them working, and help them as needed. No homework was assigned, so that alleviated the problem of students not completing work at home. Students are assigned a weekly topic goal and are given a weekly grade based on achieving that goal in seven days (including time they spend at home if these choose). There is also a threshold number of topics given for achieving a passing grade as well as grades in the course (A, B, etc.). Concepts that are required in state standards but are not covered in ALEKS are supplemented through mini lessons and worksheets about once every other week. One student was able to graduate and walk with his class because of the credit he received for this course. Others will be able to complete their math requirement and advance to another math level.


Scenario

What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
It is always a challenge to reduce drop out and increase graduation rates. Many students do not take the initiative to go to summer or night school for credit recovery. By senior year, these students have no way to catch up on credits to graduate with their class.

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

What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
40-80 minutes.


Implementation

How do you implement ALEKS?
It is used for credit recovery as an alternative for students who have already failed the traditional class at least once.

Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
No.

How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
All ALEKS learning is self-paced in a computer lab. A math teacher supervises the class and is also available to help if students do not understand explanations on the computer or cannot figure out their mistakes on a problem. Students are given a weekly minimum to complete and receive a weekly grade for meeting this goal. Students are encouraged to keep a notebook with notes and examples, which they are allowed to use during any assessments. Material that is not covered on ALEKS is supplemented through direct instruction and assessment on worksheets.

How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
This class is primarily student learning using ALEKS. I am there to assist when students get frustrated over getting incorrect answers or are not able to interpret what to do based on the explanation provided. I also offer alternative methods for students to use on a topic.

How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
It is not required, but sometimes necessary for students who have a lot of absences and need to catch up. Some students also use home-time to get ahead so they can finish the class early.


Grading

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
I use most of the Geometry topics, excluding only a few in the course, for a total of 188 topics. A student needs to successfully complete 150 topics on the pie to pass the Geometry credit recovery course with a D grade. Beyond that, the grade for ALEKS is weighted 60 percent along with 20 percent supplemental material and worksheets, 10 percent for achieving weekly topic goals, and 10 percent for attendance/attitude/behavior. For the ALEKS part (60 percent weighted), a student receives a 60 percent score for 150 topics, 70 percent for 160, 80 percent for 170, and 90 percent for 180 out of 188. I also interpolate between these for number of topics within each range. The hard part is explaining to parents that I cannot enter this score until the very end of the course.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Yes. I require12 topics per week. During short school weeks I lower it. I do not count it against students if they lose topics in their pie that week in an assessment. I use Time and Topic Report to see weekly achievement. If students are behind, they can do homework on the weekend because I check topics completed and enter these grades each Monday. I also allow a score up to 15 out of 12 if students go above the goal. This provides an opportunity for extra credit, to make up for a low week they may have had in the past.


Learning Outcomes

Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
Many of the students in this Geometry class benefit from the skills covered in ALEKS Although they all passed an Algebra 1 course, most still have low skills. The students enrolled in the course feel they are more successful with ALEKS than they were when they had tried Geometry in a traditional course setting.


Best Practices

Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
I think encouraging or requiring students to keep a notebook is a good best practice. Not only does this help students who have problems recalling things, it is a useful skill for future courses. I also feel some kind of weekly monitoring is necessary.