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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Abigail Vare School, School District of Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA

Grade(s): K - 8
Scenario: Computers in Classroom, Laptop Carts
Purpose: College and Career Readiness, Enrichment/Gifted and Talented, Improve State Test Scores, At-Risk Students
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 25%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 2 hours per week, 20-25 hours per term
ALEKS Course: Middle School Math Course 2, Middle School Math Course 3, Math Intervention

Philip Wesel, Teacher
My experience with ALEKS has been very positive because it allows me to individualize instruction for each student. Each student progresses through the curriculum at a different pace, yet I can continue my overall class goals by using ALEKS tests and quizzes to maintain a sense of how each student is progressing both within the program and with the school curriculum.


Scenario

What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
The greatest challenge for my classroom is differentiated lesson content delivery. ALEKS really helps when lower students can work at a different pace or even within a different curriculum, while other students are working at their own pace.

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

What is the average length of a class period when ALEKS is used?
20-40 minutes.


Implementation

How do you implement ALEKS?
We implemented ALEKS fairly easily because we have access to a classroom set of laptops, although we do borrow about four laptops each day from another teacher's classroom.

Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
I have integrated the chapters from our textbook, so topics are covered according to that.

How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
Every Friday I give a math quiz to the students in ALEKS. I also use ALEKS throughout the week as an end-of-period incentive and try to do at least two 20-minute sessions per week for the students to work on their ALEKS Pies.

How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I did not have to worry as much about coming up with below-level and above-level materials. I also allow some students to work independently on ALEKS for remediation within the classroom.

How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
Several of the students do use their ALEKS accounts at home. Home use is routinely encouraged.


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 quizzes are approximately 40 percent of a student's grade.

Do you require students to make regular amounts of progress in ALEKS?
Yes, but only since attending an ALEKS user group. I had not realized that some students were not working to their potential, but can now say that most days, students are responsible for completing at least four items in their pies.


Learning Outcomes

Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
Most of my students have either maintained progress or greatly improved their math skills since using ALEKS, and I would happily make it part of my classroom planning at any school I go to. I am especially happy with the ability to provide alternatives for gifted students. I don't have many gifted students, but the students I do have are actually practicing for the eleventh grade Keystone exams while in the eighth grade. This simply would not have been possible without the course selections available to all students using ALEKS. Additionally, most students really enjoy the opportunity to work in a self-paced environment. They ask on a regular basis if they are going to be able to use ALEKS in class. A few students don't care for the quizzes because it keeps them honest, and they are no longer able to just copy answers off another student's work. Overall, my students have nearly all made progress towards their learning goals using ALEKS this year, and we are very glad we participated in a three-month pilot.


Best Practices

Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
My biggest tip is to integrate ALEKS as closely as you can with the topics you are teaching. I also suggest using a dual approach with ALEKS independent study and quizzes to maintain coherence between what the students are learning from traditional teaching and from the program.