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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Clay Middle School, Carmel Clay Schools
Carmel, IN

Grade(s): 6 - 8
Scenario: Computers in Classroom
Purpose: Special Education, RtI
ALEKS Portion of Curriculum: 50%
Time Spent in ALEKS: 2 hours per week
ALEKS Course: Mathematics - LV 4 (with QuickTables), Mathematics - LV 5 (with QuickTables), RtI 6, RtI 7, RtI 8, MS RtI Tier 3, Middle School Math Course 3

Jennifer M. Dotzert, Special Education Resource Teacher
I have been VERY pleased with ALEKS. I think it is user-friendly for the students and the instructor. The students seem much more aware of their progress with the program as opposed to using only worksheets or workbooks. The students I work with enjoy the time at the computer and feel more comfortable working at their own pace. I have been able to link many of the topics and progress to Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals and objectives which is also quite helpful.


Scenario

What challenges did the class or school face in math prior to using ALEKS?
We faced a lack of research-based, appropriate middle school level math sources and programs to use. The students were often bored by doing all worksheets or workbooks.

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?
Varies.


Implementation

How do you implement ALEKS?
I told the students we were going to try a computer program that was being used in some of the regular education classrooms. I informed them it would cover topics that are covered on their standardized tests. I also showed them their progress from the beginning, and shared with them how they were to show improvement while working through the problems.

Do you cover ALEKS concepts in a particular order?
I always encourage the students to complete the whole numbers section before the other pie pieces as I feel that is the foundation for the rest of the topics.

How do you structure your class period with ALEKS?
We always begin our class with a warm-up or a story problem that the students complete individually. They are then given the opportunity to ask questions or present concerns with their regular math class. The students are then directed to start ALEKS, though some students want to start ALEKS right away. We are in the process of adding another component to the class, but we are unsure as to when and how we will implement another technique or program, especially since the students prefer the ALEKS program.

How did you modify your regular teaching approach as a result of ALEKS?
I have given the students much more freedom and individual time using ALEKS, rather than doing more individual work in a workbook or a group worksheet.

How often are students required or encouraged to work on ALEKS at home?
I rarely ask them to work on ALEKS at home, as most of my special education students already spend a great deal of time working on homework.

How do you cultivate parental involvement and support for ALEKS?
I often email parents when a student has shown a great deal of growth or has shown an increase from their initial assessment to their progress assessment.


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, I teach a resource math class where we do not assign homework as it is a special services implementation.

How do you incorporate ALEKS into your grading system?
Since I teach a resource math class, we do not give grades, but rather we update the students' IEP progress.


Learning Outcomes

Since using ALEKS, please describe the learning outcomes or progress you have seen.
I have seen some students go from a 20 percent on their initial assessment all the way to a 60 percent on a progress assessment. I feel that the students are more excited about their progress, and they look forward to watching their pie slices grow. The students seem much more aware of what they have learned and what they still need to do. I usually start my class with a warm-up or a story problem, and I feel that ALEKS has had a positive impact on that as well. The students are much more willing to attempt the problems and work on the problems until they come to a solution. In many classes, the students have also come up with their own competition to see who has gained the most percentage points. They are constantly asking who is in the lead for all the classes. They also very much like to see their letter grades and progress in QuickTables. They often ask each other what the other person scored; so it is nice, especially with some special education students, that they still have that competitive edge when it comes to something academic.


Best Practices

Are there any best practices you would like to share with other teachers implementing ALEKS?
I think it is helpful to closely monitor the students as they are working, and if you see that they are struggling, to point out to them what they could do to solve the problem.