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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DeRidder Junior High School, Beauregard Parish School Board
DeRidder, LA

Grade(s): 6 - 8
Scenario: Computers in Classroom
Purpose: Enrichment/Gifted and Talented, After-School, Improve State Test Scores, At-Risk Students
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 25-100%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 3.75 hours per week
ALEKS Course: Essential Mathematics (with QuickTables), Middle School Math Course 2, Middle School Math Course 3, Algebra Readiness, Pre-Algebra

Maria Sanchez, Teacher
Amazing! My gifted students love ALEKS! They are able to work independently and at their own pace. They progress quickly through the material they are ready to learn, which is critical for them. My remediation class loves it, too! They are comfortable doing math for the first time in years. ALEKS' ability to present material they are ready to learn allows them to make progress without getting frustrated.


Scenario

What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
Our test scores were low. Efforts over the last several years did not bring the scores up.

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?
45 minutes.


Implementation

How do you implement ALEKS?
I use ALEKS as supplemental support to the gifted math curriculum. In my remedial class, it is the total instructional program. At the school level, we use it for afterschool tutoring prior to state testing.

Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
No, I allow the students to choose what they want to work on. This freedom keeps them more interested.

How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
In my gifted class, students who have already mastered the lesson I'm teaching work on ALEKS during instructional time. They are also allowed to work on it if they are finished with their other assignments. In my remedial class, it is their total instruction. Students log in at the beginning of class and work independently. I set weekly goals for individuals and for the class. If the class meets their goal, then the students who meet their personal goal receive a treat on Friday.

How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
With my gifted students, I use the pre-test/instruct/post-test method. The students who master lessons on the pretest use ALEKS while I instruct the others. This allows my students to continue making progress within the curriculum.

How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
They are encouraged often. They have a weekly goal to meet and are reminded that if they aren't making enough progress in class, they should work at home.

How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I send letters home introducing ALEKS and print progress reports to send to parents about every three weeks.


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?
In my remedial class, ALEKS is 100 percent of their grade. Using the students' weekly goals, I assign a grade based on the percentage of the goal they achieved. Because we focus on setting realistic goals, their grades are almost always an A. This also helps boost their confidence. They can also earn bonus points for working past their goal. Grading with ALEKS in my gifted class is different. Because it is a supplemental activity, ALEKS is only 25 percent of their grade. They have goals set for every three weeks.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
I require students to master a number of new topics each week. Using the Knowledge Per Slice Report, I can see how much each student has progressed. Differentiation is important in my classroom, so amount of progress is individualized. Typically, the students will master 10-15 new topics each week.


Learning Outcomes

Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
The most amazing growth has been with my remedial class. After using ALEKS for three months, they gained 48 percentage points. The class began with an average of 27 percent mastery and brought it up to 75 percent. My remedial students have gained confidence in their own math abilities. They enjoy seeing their assessment scores go up as they master new skills. One of them commented, "I didn't know math was fun!" My gifted students love the freedom to choose which lessons they want to work on. They are a competitive group and love to challenge each other to finish a pie slice or get the highest assessment score.


Best Practices

Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
I print out the Knowledge Per Slice Report each Friday. It is part of my record keeping system. It is also a great tool for parent-teacher conferences. Because individualized instruction is new to most parents, sending the descriptive letter home helps them understand it better. It also increases support for the program.