View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
Timken High School, Canton City School District
Grade(s): 9 - 12
Scenario: Computers in Classroom
Purpose: RtI, Intervention, At-Risk Students
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 100%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 3.75 hours per week, 168.75 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Essential Mathematics (with QuickTables), MS RtI Tier 3, Middle School Math Course 2, Middle School Math Course 3, Algebra Readiness, Pre-Algebra, Foundations of High School Math, High School Preparation for Algebra 1, Algebra 1, High School Geometry
Nichole M. Kosenski, Title 1 Teacher
I love ALEKS. We have been using this program with our most at-risk students who are at least two grade levels behind in mathematics performance. The students are scheduled into my classroom, where I have ten computers to work with, for one class period per day. The students have seen great success and continue to work diligently each and every day. They genuinely like ALEKS and feel motivated by their own personal success.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
These students are at least two grade levels behind in mathematics. Because of their lack in skills, it was nearly impossible for these students to succeed in their grade-level courses. ALEKS has improved their skills, and made it possible for students to actually succeed in their grade-level courses.
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?
The at-risk students who are selected to take part in the ALEKS program are taken out of an elective course or study hall and scheduled into ALEKS. They are taking the ALEKS course in addition to their regular grade-level course. For example, Student A was taken out of his health course and scheduled into my classroom to work on ALEKS. Student A is taking Algebra Readiness in ALEKS during Period 3 and taking a traditional Algebra 1 course during Period 10. Student A is only earning a math credit for his Algebra 1 course and no credit for his work in ALEKS.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
No; students are allowed to choose the topics they would like to work on from those that are available in the list of topics they are ready to learn.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
Students log in to the program as soon as they enter the classroom. They are required to complete the number of topics that we assigned for them to do that day. For most students the number of topics ranges from 3-7 per day. On Fridays, students are allowed to have free time after completing three topics. Each time a student finishes a slice of their pie, they are given a reward of their choice. For example, they could choose to have a homework pass from their grade-level course or they could choose a food reward.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
Our regular teaching approach has not changed.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
They are always encouraged to work on ALEKS from home, but it is never required. Many of our at-risk students do not have computer access at home, so we cannot require them to complete ALEKS at home.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
We obtain both written and verbal parental permission prior to enrolling students in ALEKS. Every other week parents are informed either by phone call, email, or a letter home of their child's progress in the program. Once per quarter, parents receive letters describing their child's overall progress in both ALEKS and their grade-level course.
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?
No, because ALEKS is not part of their regular grade-level course.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
Students who participate in ALEKS are awarded an extra 5-10 percent of extra credit in their grade-level course. Otherwise, students do not receive a grade or credit for their work in ALEKS.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Each student is required to complete a certain number of topics per day. The number of topics varies per student and is based on the course they are enrolled in, the cognitive ability of the student, and the student's level of motivation. Most students are required to complete between 3-7 topics per day.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
We have been using ALEKS as a tier 3 intervention program with our most at-risk students. These are students who were identified to be at least two or more grade levels behind in their mathematics performance. The students spend an average of 3.5 hours per week on the program. The most amazing measure of success is the improvement in grade level performance. The students' grade level performance is determined by a screening assessment, and they have increased by an average of 1.2 grade levels in 3 months' time. In addition, 91 percent of students say that ALEKS has improved their math skills, while 86 percent say that ALEKS has improved their confidence level in mathematics; 65 percent say they are more prepared to complete work in their grade level course because of what they have learned in ALEKS. We have 63 students enrolled in the program and every one of these students work diligently every day, and seem to be very motivated by their own progress and success.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
My best advice is to push students beyond their comfort zone. If you know that students are uncomfortable with fractions, require that they complete fractions first. The students will see by using ALEKS that fractions aren't really that scary, and they begin to feel success. The more successful students are, the more they are motivated to work. I use this strategy with a lot of my students, and it has really improved their confidence in mathematics.