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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Park Place Middle School, Monroe School District
Monroe, WA

Grade(s): 6 - 8
Scenario: Computer Lab
Purpose: Core Curriculum
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 100%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 2 hours per week, 25 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Foundations of High School Math

Vicki Berg, ELL/Title 1 Math Teacher
This is our second year with ALEKS in middle school. I love it! It has enabled me to individualize instruction for students who are very far behind in math and cannot be successful in their grade level classes.


Scenario

What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
Our students were so far behind that they just gave up on math or became behavioral problems. There were simply too many gaps to fill for a teacher to give whole group instruction, even in a remedial math class.

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

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


Implementation

How do you implement ALEKS?
We began by only having students use ALEKS twice per week, supplemented by their textbooks. We quickly learned that it was necessary to use ALEKS daily along with two extra days devoted to helping the students in their regular classes.

Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
No, but I do encourage students to focus on topics in their appropriate learning order, with addition/subtraction coming first, then building up to more complicated concepts in geometry and algebra.

How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
We use ALEKS regularly Monday through Wednesday in the lab. We then administer a quiz on Wednesday followed by classroom instruction on their content area classes. The students also have the option to retake the quiz to achieve a passing grade.

How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
Although I am not a regular math teacher and have always had small groups for instruction, ALEKS allows me to focus on those individuals with greater needs while the other students are working independently.

How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
They are not required unless they were absent on a lab day, but are always encouraged and will receive extra credit if they do so.

How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I have conferences and send emails to parents to keep them updated.


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?
No, I do not assign homework.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
I use ALEKS quizzes as part of my grading system. There is also a quarterly assessment worth 5 percent of a student's grade. Students also earn 40 percent of their grade by measuring the items learned per hour based on 10 points per day. Students earn a point for every item they complete per hour, with the minimum being four points for five items or less in an hour. If a student is absent, they cannot get points unless they work on ALEKS outside of their class. Another 40 percent is based on daily on-task behavior, with an additional 10 percent based on weekly progress in their grade level class based on assignments turned in.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Yes, students are checked weekly for learning progress as measured through the reports I run in ALEKS. The amount of progress varies with the student. I have some students that I push more than others. There are some students that may not progress as much, but are trying as hard as they can. In these instances, I measure effort along with actual progress.


Learning Outcomes

Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
I see a great deal of progress in my students' knowledge of facts. Their speed and accuracy has increased significantly. After using ALEKS, they are able to recognize that making careless errors keep them from filling in their pies as fast as they could if they had been more careful. I also see improvement in their ability to identify and tell me what they did wrong, and then use a "fix-it" strategy to help themselves, instead of simply moving on and ignoring their mistakes. Also, the students like that they don't have to review so much if they stay on top of their assignments. Most are very excited and become very motivated as they see their pie fill up, and they do much better and better on assessments. ALEKS gives my students the ability to monitor their own progress and take more control of their own learning. 


Best Practices

Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
Although I like the idea of choice, especially for middle school students, I'm finding they do need to be held accountable for a section at a time and not spend a lot of time "hopping" around. I would also spend the first week setting goals with the students and pointing out all the features in the reports so they know exactly what they need to do. It is time well spent.