View a selection of implementation strategies from educators who are successfully using ALEKS to achieve dramatic learning outcomes.
Austin Middle School, Irving Independent School District
Grade(s): 6 - 8
Scenario: One-to-One Laptop Program, Computers in Classroom, Laptop Carts
Purpose: RtI, Improve State Test Scores, At-Risk Students, ESL Students
ALEKS Course: Mathematics - LV 3 (with QuickTables), Mathematics - LV 4 (with QuickTables), Mathematics - LV 5 (with QuickTables), Essential Mathematics (with QuickTables), Arithmetic (with QuickTables), RtI 6, RtI 7, RtI 8, MS RtI Tier 3, Middle School Math Course 2, Middle School Math Course 3, Algebra Readiness, Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1
Renee Davis, Secondary ELL Coordinator
The English Language Learners (ELL) Department bought ALEKS for the English as a Second Language (ESL) students who were struggling in math, were new to the country, and were ExcELL (students with significant gaps in education). My story begins with a student who entered the school as a seventh grader and spoke no English. We found that he had a lot of gaps in his education; his math understanding was at the fourth grade level. He was put in the ExcELL classes and fell in love with the ALEKS program. On school days, he would come in early and stay after school to work on ALEKS. He loved the challenge of the tests and the ALEKS Pie, and loved to watch his progress. He advanced quickly through the levels and the different courses. By the end of the year, he finished the Algebra 1 course! The next year, the student returned to his home campus and was put in regular program classes and is progressing well. On this year's Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS), he scored "Advanced" in speaking and "Advanced High" in listening, writing, and reading. His teacher said, "I think ALEKS doesn't realize that not only are they teaching the kids math skills, but are also teaching academic language. The option to switch from English to Spanish is another feature that the students enjoy. To be honest, students know ALEKS is teaching them math, but they don't realize the program is teaching them English, too."
What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
The largest challenge is filling in gaps in students' math education, which is often hard to figure out for teachers. Differentiation is also difficult for large classrooms. The artificial intelligence in ALEKS helps teachers find gaps and allows them to create small group instruction that targets certain skills needed to be successful and progress on grade level.
How many days per week is class time dedicated to ALEKS?
1-4 days per week.
What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
How do you implement ALEKS?
The campus with the student mentioned before uses it along with the math curriculum. Other campuses vary in how ALEKS is implemented.
Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
It differs from campus to campus. Most ELL math classes have math doubled-blocked, and ALEKS is used during the blocked time. Others use it in the afterschool program, and yet another uses it for before-school tutoring.
How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
One teacher uses it during her math period where she has a small group of 11-13 students. She uses whole group and small group instruction, and also has students on ALEKS.
How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
Most of the students do not have a computer at home.
How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
We talk about it during our ELL Parent Information Night, Back-to-School Night, and at the ELL Parent Academy during the year.
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?
Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
The teachers monitor student progress, and I monitor that the teachers are using the program regularly.
Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
When teachers use ALEKS on a regular basis, we see significant growth in students' knowledge and test scores. I have also noticed how much the students love to see their pies at the beginning of each session because it motivates and encourages them.
Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
It's more effective if the students use an interactive notebook with the program and bring the notebook to small group instruction and re-teach. Additionally, student progress is greater if there is small group instruction along with being on the computer. Teachers need to create these groups using the data from ALEKS, and change the groups often.