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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Monte Vista High School, Newport Mesa Unified School District
Costa Mesa, CA

Grade(s): 10 - 12
Scenario: Computers in Classroom
Purpose: Exit Exam
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 100%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 5 hours per week, 60 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Essential Mathematics (with QuickTables)

Dennis Ashendorf, Teacher
Students respond well to ALEKS. While I try to use standards-based courses, I've found Essential Mathematics (with QuickTables) to be the most effective platform to teach math, especially for California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) students. ALEKS staff has responded to my requests quickly; I thoroughly trust and recommend ALEKS to all educators.


Scenario

What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
In a continuation school, just getting students to do work is an accomplishment.

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?
57 minutes.


Implementation

How do you implement ALEKS?
I just follow the standard ALEKS curriculum. I figure that the program's flow is more pedagogically correct than adaptations for questionable standards-based pacing schedules.

Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
Student choice is absolutely necessary to the success of ALEKS. Pushing an order only decreases the effectiveness of ALEKS.

How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
Students log in to ALEKS immediately. Computer monitors face me, so I can tell if students are working or not.

How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I use ALEKS as a virtual class-size reduction tool. Since I can issue credit for mastery learning, students receive five credits for completing a class. Students who dawdle still earn credit for seat time. It is broken down as 12 hours equal one credit.

How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
None of my classroom students log in at home, but my independent study students do. However, 70 percent need twice weekly phone calls to remind them to log on.

How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I ask parents for a voluntary $40 contribution to cover the cost of ALEKS. About 50 percent of the parents usually donate. Most parents want ALEKS because direct instruction hasn't worked, and ALEKS deals well with the exceptions. Parents get it and paying a small sum helps them commit.


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?
Yes, 100 percent.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
Students receive five credits for completing a class. However, students who dawdle still earn credit for seat time.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
I look at time first, and then I see if progress has been made. If it is little, I watch and talk with the student. Depending on the student's performance, I may have to press by demanding more work or placing them into a direct instruction classroom.


Learning Outcomes

Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
Students who complete, by themselves, 100 percent of the Essential Mathematics (with QuickTables) objectives will almost always pass the CAHSEE. In short, more of the student space is receptive to ALEKS than to other products.


Best Practices

Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
I suggest printing out a worksheet and having students complete it in your presence if they are taking courses remotely.