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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East Valley High School, East Valley School District
Spokane, WA

Grade(s): 9 - 12
Scenario: Computer Lab
Purpose: Intervention
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 5%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 4 hours per week, 75 hours per term
ALEKS Course: High School Preparation for Algebra 1, Algebra 1

Ryan Seidel, Teacher
Overall, we have been pleased with ALEKS as an intervention for struggling learners.


Scenario

What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
One of the struggles that this class faced prior to using ALEKS was the wide array of knowledge levels. The course included any student who was not ready for Algebra 1, so we had some students that were borderline ready, while others had trouble with basic operations and number sense.

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?
45 minutes.


Implementation

How do you implement ALEKS?
ALEKS is currently being implemented into our remedial curriculum as a pilot. Of our four sections of the class, two classes are using ALEKS and the other two classes are using the previous curriculum. All students are periodically assessed using a third-party tool at various points throughout the year.

Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
Students are allowed to choose the order they complete ALEKS topics. Giving them the freedom to choose seems to be a motivating factor.

How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
Students enter the class period and spend 5-10 minutes reviewing basic operations in QuickTables. They then move into their designated course and work through slices of their pie while I conduct small group instruction in areas that students are ready to learn (according to the ALEKS reports). Each Friday, students have a progress assessment to check where they are at. In addition, students have to complete one worksheet per week.

How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I enjoy how ALEKS allows me to work with small groups of students, without sacrificing student learning for those who are working independently. It has also forced me to assess student learning using more data-driven policies.

How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
Students are not required to work on ALEKS from home but are often encouraged to if they are behind or are absent. For students who struggle with attendance, this gives them another way to stay on track.

How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
The ability of parents to log into ALEKS at home with their children is helpful, and parents appreciate that students can still make progress even if they are not 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?
Students are required to complete certain tasks in ALEKS, but most of the work is done during class time.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
Student Assessments make up 80 percent of a student's grade. Student Assessments are recorded as an ever-changing grade; each time a student makes progress in an ALEKS assessment, their grade increases. Student Classwork makes up the other 20 percent of the student's grade. Students earn points based on a weekly worksheet, time spent in QuickTables, and for achieving an average of four topics mastered per hour.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Students are required to master four topics per hour of work in ALEKS. In addition, they are required to reach at least 70 percent mastery on the assessment by the end of term in order to receive credit for the class.


Learning Outcomes

Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
We are piloting ALEKS with two classes of struggling learners enrolled in a Pre-Algebra program. Since starting the program last winter, 90 percent of the students have completed the High School Preparation for Algebra 1 course and all students have made progress as determined by a third-party assessment. However, the biggest gain of the program has been student engagement. The struggling learners we are working with also struggle to stay on task. With ALEKS, they monitor their own progress and are motivated to achieve. Recent changes to the student's view of the reporting menu have only increased this engagement.


Best Practices

Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
Placing ownership for learning on the student has greatly increased performance in my classes. I regularly encourage students to check their Reports tab and keep each other accountable for progress.