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Pacific Coast High School, Orange County Department of Education
Grade(s): 9 - 12
Scenario: Computer Lab, Home Access
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: Varies
Time Spent in ALEKS: 5-15 hours per week, 75-90 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, High School Geometry, Algebra 2, PreCalculus, Trigonometry
Patricia M. Elliott, Math Department Chair
ALEKS is excellent! Our students are doing well, our California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) pass rate has increased to 95.88 percent, and more of our students are moving on to higher levels of math.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
Because we are an independent study program, our students come to us with math skills that are all over the map. Some are very high-performing and were bored with the pace of math courses at traditional schools. Others are very low-performing and were frustrated by their inability to learn. ALEKS meets the needs of students all along the learning spectrum. High performers can move ahead and low performers can work at their own pace.
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?
Four years ago, an ALEKS representative did a presentation to our math teachers, then came back and did a presentation to about 25 of our families who indicated that they would approve of their students moving from a textbook class to one that would be online, with the option of coming on campus to weekly math labs.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
This year, I used the textbook integration option to align ALEKS with the McDougall Littell textbook we have used for several years.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
All students work on an independent study basis, working at their own pace. They must finish their math course by the end of each semester. They may come in for help during the three math labs we offer each week.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
The students, who like to work on their own, are left to do so. Those who find math difficult come on campus regularly to get help in one of the math labs. All math students must come on campus and take a proctored midterm and a final exam.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
We tell them a minimum of an hour a day, but they need to put whatever time it takes to meet each Intermediate Objective, and also complete a certain percentage of work each week.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I introduce ALEKS to parents by having them and their students meet with me the first week of each new semester at a one hour math orientation meeting.
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 all of the homework.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
The midterm exam counts for 300 points, the final exam is 300 points, the syllabus quiz is 100 points, weekly percentage completion is 50 points per week, three ALEKS Worksheets are 100 points, math notes are 25 points, and a grade printout with parent signature is 100 points.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Yes. The amount depends on the math course. I use the reports in the Teacher Module to determine the number of topics that need to be completed each week to ensure that students have covered all material that will appear on the midterm and final exam. By the end of the year, they will have covered all topics in the course.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
The progress is very encouraging. I think the one thing that I am happiest about is the fact that so many more students are going on to upper level math courses, not just stopping after Algebra 1. In addition, with ALEKS students are doing well in all of the courses. So many students over the past 4-5 years have told me how much they hated math, but ALEKS helped them change their mind. They could learn it and understand it. I have even had some of my graduates email me after their college entrance assessments and tell me they were placed in higher-level math in college as a result of the way they learned math with ALEKS.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
This is the first semester that I have been able to have access to reports that make it easy to set up weekly due dates for the students by the percentage of topics they must complete. This has been working out really well. I am very pleased with the upgrades to the program.