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South Amherst Middle School, Firelands Local School District
South Amherst, OH
Grade(s): 6 - 8
Scenario: Computer Lab
Purpose: Intervention, Special Education, At-Risk Students
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 20%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 1.5-2 hours per week, 150 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Mathematics - LV 5 (with QuickTables), Middle School Math Course 2
Sally Kraly, Intervention Specialist
ALEKS has made a huge positive difference as an intervention tool in our middle school. After using ALEKS in our math computer lab, our Ohio Achievement Assessments (OAA) scores for seventh grade math have increased by eight points (grade average score) and our OAA scores for eighth grade have increased by 18 points (grade average score). Working toward filling up pies was motivating for our students and is easy to keep track of for the teacher. We set goals based on the number of objectives earned in a two-week period, and part of a student's grade is based on how many objectives they have mastered.
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
We had less data-driven decision making, less re-teaching, less ability to identify individual weaknesses, and no scheduled time each day to provide intervention.
How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
2-3 days per week.
What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
How do you implement ALEKS?
The math lab is an intervention class where students are assigned to if they weren't proficient on the OAA or had failed their math class the previous year. We split the students by grade level and while eighth graders are receiving direct instruction (re-teaching the most missed or misunderstood concepts) from one teacher, the seventh graders are in a computer lab doing ALEKS. So by the end of two weeks, each group has worked on ALEKS for six periods.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
We usually line up what the other math lab teacher is re-teaching with what the students are working on in ALEKS as much as possible. However, this doesn't always happen due to individual differences; some students might have already mastered that particular section by the time it was re-taught.
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
Our math labs include seventh and eighth grade students who either weren't proficient on the OAA or had failed math the previous year. Eighth graders alternate daily with seventh graders; while one grade level receives direct instruction from a teacher, the other grade level goes to a computer lab to work on ALEKS.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I haven't modified too much since I'm an intervention specialist and am used to working with small groups and one-on-one. However, I have had to include concrete rewards. I also use a set of iPods with math apps as a reward for students who reach their goal prior to the end of each two-week period in math lab.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
We don't require the math lab students to work on ALEKS at home, but we do encourage them regularly. Some other teachers in our building who have advanced students do assign ALEKS for homework.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
We haven't done much reaching out to parents. Generally the parents who are involved and concerned encourage their children to do extra ALEKS at home.
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?
They are assigned 15 objectives every two weeks as part of their math lab grade; it makes up about a third of their grade. Behavior points are also earned, as well as short cycle assessments.
How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
It makes up about 33.3 percent of their math lab grade.
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Students complete 15 objectives every two weeks which are earned in six 40-minute periods during these two weeks.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
We have seen an increase in the OAA scores for seventh and eighth grade students due to ALEKS. Students are mostly proud of their progress and many of them also have increased motivation. Additionally, we have seen an increase in the ability of students to be able to zero in on their weaknesses in math by strand. Our math teachers have also gained more information on individual students.