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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IKM-Manning High School, IKM-Manning Community School District
Manilla, IA

Grade(s): 9 - 12
Scenario: One-to-One Laptop Program
Purpose: Credit Recovery, Enrichment/Gifted and Talented
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 10%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 4 hours per week, 72 hours per term
ALEKS Course: High School Geometry, Algebra 2

Virginia Rasmussen, Teacher
My experience with ALEKS has been fantastic. I use it predominantly for accelerated students who are self-motivated, so for them to go online and work at their own pace is fantastic. I really appreciate the fact that the students must master a skill before moving on to the next skill, and that they really must master a topic or they will revisit it after an assessment if it is not mastered. I really wish I had the time to teach all my classes in this manner. The program also has some very unique features, especially when it comes to graphing higher degree equations. It's a great program!


Scenario

What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
We really didn't have anything for an extremely talented student in the middle school. ALEKS has definitely filled that void. We were also using another program for credit recovery students at the high school level, but are now using ALEKS because we feel it is a better program.

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?
85 minutes.


Implementation

How do you implement ALEKS?
Initially, ALEKS was predominantly used for seniors who wanted to take a fourth year of math but couldn't fit it into their schedule. It was also used for students who couldn't fit the math class they wanted into their schedule.

Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
Because our regular math curriculum uses a textbook, I set up the ALEKS topics to replicate the order in the text.

How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
I don't use ALEKS in my class per se. Our gifted and talented student comes in, logs in, and continues to work independently for the duration of the class. I offer help when it is needed. He does this during my regular Algebra 1 period; however, this student is taking Algebra 2 at this time.

How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
When we first began using ALEKS, I was the facilitator for the students. At that time we had a computer lab full of seniors who wanted to take a fourth year of math but couldn't fit it into their schedule or wanted a class that we didn't offer. Some didn't want the pressure of a grade, so they took the class as a pass/fail. Now students are in a class with a regular teacher, except for credit recovery purposes.

How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
I encourage them to do so.

How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
We haven't done much in this area. However, we could work on that a little more, especially as a tutorial for students.


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?
ALEKS is their classwork and homework, but they usually work on it just during class.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
The gifted students are given an automatic A because they are taking an accelerated course. As long as they continue to grow in their objectives, they maintain the A. For my other students, I used to require that they accomplish at least five objectives a week and spend four hours a week online at minimum. I would, on occasion, give the students an ALEKS worksheet just to keep up their skills, which would also weigh into their grade. The percentages changed from one year to the next as I tried to find the right mix of what I felt was a true representation of what they learned.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Yes, I do require the students to make regular amounts of progress, but it has not been an issue this year because of the type of students that I monitor.


Learning Outcomes

Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
ALEKS has been great because of the ability to move students on to another class once they have completed a class. In fact, I had a student who completed the High School Geometry course in the first quarter of the school year and will probably complete the Algebra 2 course this year. The students seem to be very pleased with their progress.


Best Practices

Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
I think the best approach is to let the students work and for the teacher to be available as a facilitator. The one-on-one personal contact gives me a chance to see how the student is doing and to help clarify an idea for them should they have any difficulty.