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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Eastern Hancock High School, Community School Corporation of Eastern Hancock
Charlottesville, IN

Grade(s): 9 - 12
Scenario: Laptop Carts
Purpose: Intervention, Enrichment/Gifted and Talented
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 45%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 1.3 hours per week, 13 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Traditional Algebra 1, Algebra 2, PreCalculus, AP Statistics (Quantitative)

Jennie Gaylord, Teacher
As a school we used ALEKS on a trial basis this semester. I had one Algebra 1 class and one remedial Algebra 2 class working on the program. With my Algebra 1 class I found it to be very successful, especially with my high ability kids who could work ahead. My remedial class did not advance as far; however, they developed a deeper understanding of topics that they had missed previously. So in that regard, ALEKS served its purpose of remediating trouble spots in students' math understanding.


Scenario

What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
We had trouble with having enough review. Since we are a small school, with only one teacher at the high school level teaching Algebra, it was hard to review or remediate as much as some students needed.

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?
40 minutes.


Implementation

How do you implement ALEKS?
I set up intermediate objectives as we cover topics in class. This guides students through the material we are covering, which they need for classroom assessments. It also allows them to go back and cover items that they are struggling with. Since I still have to give a state test, I cover topics in class in the same way I would without ALEKS. ALEKS serves as a tool for practice and remediation as well as to accelerate students who catch on quickly.

Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
I use the blueprint for the Indiana End-of-Course Assessment (ECA) to guide the order of my topics.

How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
We use ALEKS on alternating days. It is optimal if students can use the ALEKS program and have regular instruction in the same room.

How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I find that less homework is needed. Homework is for practice, and students are getting so much practice on days that we do ALEKS that I often do not feel they need to work any further on those days. I also find that I am able to direct students to topics as they are struggling.

How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
I have a requirement of two topics mastered and 40 minutes each time we log on. I tell students that if they are unable to reach this goal, they must make up the topics/time outside of class. I also encourage students who are struggling with a topic to cover it at home, so that when they come in the next day, we can discuss the issues/successes.

How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I have worked with parents to ensure that their child is meeting his/her goals in ALEKS, which we determined at the beginning of the semester.


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 occasionally have students do an ALEKS worksheet. I do not expect them to log on as homework, as we still have students who are without a computer or Internet access.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
ALEKS progress accounts for 25 percent of their grade.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Yes, students need to master an average of two topics per class period (since we go on alternating days, they are logged on for 40 minutes at a time).


Learning Outcomes

Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
I noticed that students are working more independently and using the Explain option more frequently. This encourages students to try to figure something out on their own before asking. I also noticed that a sense of competition has evolved among my higher ability kids. They really work hard to make improvements from assessment to assessment. The majority of them like the program. They like having the opportunity to work at their own pace, choosing topics that they want to learn about.


Best Practices

Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
We tried having the students keep a binder of the handwritten work done while using ALEKS. However, we found most students do better keeping a spiral notebook.