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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Fort Fairfield Middle/High School, Maine Area School District 20
Fort Fairfield, ME

Grade(s): 6 - 12
Scenario: One-to-One Laptop Program
Purpose: Improve State Test Scores, Supplement
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 20%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 1 hour per week, 9+ hours per term
ALEKS Course: Middle School Math Course 2, Middle School Math Course 3

Sharon Kozura, Teacher
ALEKS is wonderful for finding all of the little skills that students either were never exposed to or never mastered. I use it in my math classes once a week. The program is also used when students finish a math lesson early and need something to do while the slower students catch up. It has brought up our Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) scores significantly and has given the students more confidence in math class.


Scenario

What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
I never knew where an individual student stood when they came into my class. I would have to constantly assess and develop individual plans for each student, and most of the time it was hit or miss because each student has individual needs. ALEKS does that for me, making my classes easier to teach each student at the level they are at.

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

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


Implementation

How do you implement ALEKS?
We fought for more math time at the school. Instead of teaching math for 80 minutes every other day, we convinced the administration to give us an hour every day for math. The administration agreed because the only low scores in the district are the middle school math scores. This extra time is dedicated to using ALEKS.

Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
Yes. I have students work on the topics that go along with the unit I am teaching. However, there are also many gaps to fill in too.

How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
Friday is our ALEKS day. The students like this because it means no homework on the weekends. They are also encouraged to work on ALEKS when they finish a math lesson early, when they have no work to do in a study hall, or at home when they are "bored."

How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I continue to teach using our textbook, just as I did before ALEKS, but now students get the extra practice with ALEKS. ALEKS also shows me where the entire class is lacking, so I can modify lessons as we go. For example, usually my students have had percents in the sixth grade but I noticed they were struggling with them in ALEKS this year. When I questioned the teacher and found that she did not get to them last year, I adjusted my curriculum to catch them up.

How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
If the student is not making the desired progress in school, they are encouraged to work on ALEKS at home. Some parents make it a requirement, but unfortunately others do not care.

How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
We have a weekly newsletter that mentions the program frequently. When I conference with a struggling student's parents, I recommend that they have their student spend time on ALEKS at home to catch the student up.


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.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
ALEKS counts for one summative grade per quarter. It comes out to about 12 percent of the total grade.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
I ask students to make 25 percent progress in the course they are working on per quarter. Students who are working above grade level are only required to make half of that since they have never been taught the topics they are working on.


Learning Outcomes

Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
My students' scores have gone up an average of 8.5 points on the NWEA, when their projected increase has only been an average of five points In fact, some increases have been as much as 14-15 points. At first, the process was a struggle since many students are not motivated learners and need to be pushed. Now that they are seeing the results, they are all smiles. Even when I intend to give them a break after their standardized testing, they still insist on going back on ALEKS.


Best Practices

Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
I always sit with the student who has made the least progress. They are either unmotivated or having a problem with the reading, so they need the extra push. Students need to see progress and have a goal to reach. I also give out lots of praise.