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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River of Life Christian School, Private
Tucson, AZ

Grade(s): K - 12
Scenario: Computers in Classroom
Purpose: Core Curriculum
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 90%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 3 hours per week, 27 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Algebra Readiness, Algebra 1, High School Geometry, Algebra 2, Trigonometry

Susan Sumner, Teacher
My ALEKS experience has been one of learning and growing with my students to enable them to excel at their own level in math. There are students who are doing very well and progressing through 2-4 courses in just one year. The students who struggle are encouraged to progress at a rate with which they are comfortable with the help of a teacher or student aid. At the least, the students will leave this school year knowing close to or past the standard math level for their grade. This is our second year using the program and I continue to find better ways to motivate and encourage each student's best efforts.


Scenario

What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
As a small school, it is necessary for one teacher to be able to teach several levels of math. However, there were not enough hours in a day to split the classes for everyone to be taught at their level and scheduling was a nightmare. As a class of one grade or multiple grades, the students were everywhere on the math ability scale. It was becoming impossible to teach one math level to a class because some students were just not at that level while others were already beyond that level. As a teacher, I as if I needed to be cloned to be able to teach at so many levels at once.

How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
4 days per week.

What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
45 minutes.


Implementation

How do you implement ALEKS?
We have a computer lab in my room. The first period I have students in grades 10-12; second period is scheduled for students in grades 5-6; and third period is for seventh grade students. Finally, fourth period is reserved for students in grades 8-9.

Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
I try to have students work on one piece of the pie at a time, and work in the order that is given in the ALEKS curriculum.

How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
I have recently changed some things to help students try to complete their course towards the end of the year. If students are close to an assessment (18-21 topics on the review list), then they review for one period. If they reviewed the day before, then they push towards an assessment by learning new concepts. If they are not close to an assessment, then they learn new concepts (a minimum of three in one class period). This procedure has greatly helped those students who were moving a little slow. On Wednesdays, they receive their math folders with a new worksheet printed from the ALEKS program. They also have the two previous weeks' worksheets that they are to correct. These folders are their homework and are due every Friday. The worksheets help me to better see how they are doing in their understanding and counts as one-third of their grade.

How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
My teaching now works in conjunction with ALEKS as I help the students. Sometimes I will explain a concept in a different way if the student is struggling with the ALEKS explanation. The Wednesday class also offers me an opportunity to explain how students should show their work on their worksheets and make sure they follow the correct steps to get the correct answer.

How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
Students are encouraged to work from home as much as possible. Unfortunately, several of our students come from struggling homes, so they don't all have the ability to work from home.

How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
For Open House, we have the students and parents come to the classroom and try out ALEKS for themselves. I show them how they can keep track of what their student is doing from home if they have that capability.


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?
The only part that is required homework is the weekly worksheet printed from ALEKS.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
The grades are figured in thirds. One-third is their assessment progress from one grading period to the next. Another third is their "daily grade" and is figured by the ratio of concepts mastered plus the concepts probably mastered divided by the concepts probably not mastered (this encourages students to stick with a concept and ask questions, not just give up on it). The last third is their weekly worksheet average.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
The required progress is the three concepts mastered or probably mastered per day. They must get to the 90 percent assessment mark to be promoted to the next math level.


Learning Outcomes

Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
There are students who are doing very well and progressing through 2-4 courses in just one year. The students who struggle are encouraged to progress at a rate with which they are comfortable with the help of a teacher or student aid. At the least, the students will leave this school year knowing close to or past the standard math level for their grade. When students' assessment progress is positive and they go a significant amount in one assessment, they are on cloud nine.


Best Practices

Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
We offer tickets for a weekly drawing if they have the minimum of three mastered or probably mastered topics in a class period. We also have ticket bonus days where students are given one extra ticket for every concept they master over the minimum of three. We then ring a bell when someone goes up on an assessment. I also give back half the points missed on worksheets when they correct all of the missed problems.