Mathematics: From Concept Introduction to Testing Success

Creating Understanding. Raising Test Scores.

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Table of Contents
ALEKS and No Child Left Behind........................................................... 4 The ALEKS Story: Research Brought to Life ....................................... 5 ALEKS’ Unique Benefits ......................................................................... 7 ALEKS Success Stories ............................................................................ 8 Deforest Area School District, Deforest, Wisconsin ...................... 8 St. Bernard’s School, Tracy, California........................................... 9 John F. Kennedy Middle School, North Miami Beach, Florida......................................................10 Byron Syring Delta Center (including Monte Vista Online Academy), Monte Vista, Colorado ...............................11 Akron Digital Academy, Akron, Ohio.............................................12 Irvine Unified School District, Irvine, California.............................13 Westview High School, Avondale, Arizona.....................................14 Quantitative Data........................................................................................15 Irvine Unified School District, Irvine, California.............................15 Byron Syring Delta Center (including Monte Vista Online Academy), Monte Vista, Colorado ................................19 Westview High School, Avondale, Arizona.....................................20 ALEKS’ Current Courses..........................................................................23 ALEKS® Mathematics: Creating Understanding. Raising Test Scores. 2

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ALEKS AND NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) calls No Child Left Behind “the most sweeping education reform legislation in more than 35 years…The law aims to have all students performing at proficient levels in 1 mathematics and reading by 2014.” Schools and teachers will be accountable as never before for students’ performance and improvement, and students will be expected to demonstrate their knowledge of requisite concepts and skills through extensive testing. The results of these tests will be part of annual state and district “report cards” that help the public measure their schools’ performance and their state’s progress against the standards. The state and district will reveal the test results for every student group, including those who are economically disadvantaged; members of racial, ethnic, and language minorities; and students with disabilities. The report cards also will provide results by gender and migrant status to help identify and 2 close the achievement gap between students of various groups. Beginning in 2002-2003, tests were required in three grade spans: 3–5, 6–9, and 10–12. Starting with the 2005–06 school year, mathematics and reading tests will be administered annually in grades 3 through 8. Schools that fail to meet state academic performance standards may be required to: • • • Offer supplemental services Provide transportation to other schools Restructure

In addition to increased accountability, No Child Left Behind supports the use of effective, research-based education methods and appropriate classroom technology. Teachers and administrators throughout the country are working hard to meet the standards imposed by No Child Left Behind, but in a highly diverse society, the old methods don’t meet the needs of every student. New strategies may be required. ALEKS believes that schools should be given the opportunity to apply new research-based strategies and that all students, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic group, or ability level, should receive the type of instruction that increases their ability to succeed on state and federally mandated
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National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Web site No Child Left Behind Web site

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tests. Our unique ALEKS program is an effective, proven method that addresses many of the concerns raised by the provisions of No Child Left Behind. Researched and developed under a multimillion dollar grant from the National Science Foundation and available only on the World Wide Web, ALEKS (Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces), is an individualized mathematics program—a full-time automated tutor that allows students to demonstrate what they already know and helps them master new concepts. ALEKS delivers a precise diagnostic assessment of students’ math knowledge, guides them in the selection of new materials, and records their progress toward mastery of content goals. Its unique, research-based system allows the program to move between explanation and practice, correct and analyze errors, and introduce new topics only when the student is ready. By targeting what the student is prepared to learn next, ALEKS builds a learning environment that engages students, sparking their interest and propelling them toward success. This report shares the stories of seven schools across the nation that have selected the ALEKS program. Many schools use the program for remediation, some find that it challenges especially able students. Some teachers choose ALEKS to give at-risk students an additional learning strategy. Others give every student the opportunity to experience the ALEKS difference. No matter how the program is implemented, the results are the same—improved abilities in math and higher test scores.

THE ALEKS STORY: RESEARCH BROUGHT TO LIFE
A revolutionary learning approach created by an internationally known team of software engineers and cognitive scientists, ALEKS is fundamentally different from previous educational software. It is based on research in Knowledge Space Theory (which analyzes how knowledge is acquired) and features an artificial intelligence engine. ALEKS can search an enormous knowledge structure quickly and efficiently and can accurately assess the exact knowledge state of any student in any mathematics subject area. The groundbreaking technology that ALEKS employs interacts with each student individually, identifying knowledge gaps and adapting its explanations and questions to the student’s particular needs, just as you would. This ability to assess a student’s strengths and weaknesses results in truly individualized instruction. 5 ALEKS® Mathematics: Creating Understanding. Raising Test Scores.
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Authentic Assessment When a student logs on to the system the first time, he or she takes a Tutorial to learn to use ALEKS’ simple mathematics communication tools. The student then moves on to the Assessment Module. There are no multiple choice options, and assessment questions are generated from a carefully designed repertoire of items, ensuring comprehensive coverage of the subject. The system selects each subsequent question based on the answers to all previous questions. Every assessment is unique; a student can’t predict the sequence of questions or learn the answers ahead of time. Therefore, assessment of the student’s math knowledge is both authentic and accurate. The initial assessment determines what the student knows and is ready to learn. The results are displayed in a color pie chart that indicates the student’s level of mastery of the objectives for each area of study. The student may then choose any of these topics as an entry point into the Learning Mode. Limitless Help and Practice In the Learning Mode, ALEKS provides practice problems on only those topics that the student is ready to learn. It corrects and analyzes mistakes and offers specific advice for particular problems. In addition, an “Explain” button offers a complete explanation of the problem the student is trying to solve, as well as access to ALEKS’ online hyperlinked dictionary. Once the student has demonstrated mastery of a concept, the pie chart is modified to reflect progress and the student may select another topic. Watching their pie charts fill in and change is challenging and motivating for students. Easier Classroom Management ALEKS’ Teacher Module is a powerful tool that enables you to gauge every student’s achievement and plan lessons and students groupings. It also allows you to generate summaries for individual students—and for the entire class—so you can choose the topics the class is most ready to learn. This accurate knowledge of individual and class strengths and gaps helps you prepare your students for standardized testing with greater efficiency and effectiveness.

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ALEKS’ UNIQUE BENEFITS
No Guesswork ALEKS’ Teacher Module is a powerful tool that enables you to gauge every student’s achievement and plan lessons and students groupings. It also allows you to generate summaries for individual students—and for the entire class—so you can choose the topics the class is most ready to learn. This accurate knowledge of individual and class strengths and gaps helps you prepare your students for standardized testing with greater efficiency and effectiveness. Faster Understanding Once a student has chosen a topic, ALEKS offers explanation and practice. As the student works the practice problems, ALEKS offers immediate feedback and suggestions. It continually monitors and updates its map of the student’s knowledge and adjusts its functions accordingly. When students have eliminated their knowledge gaps, they are free to move ahead, confident they have mastered the concepts they need for continued progress. Flexibility Because of its ability to individualize instruction, ALEKS works for every student, from those who are struggling to those who want to move ahead more quickly. Self-pacing and continual assessment let students progress as fast as their understanding allows. No matter what your students’ ability levels, ALEKS will provide appropriate challenge and require demonstration of mastery throughout the learning process. Round-the-Clock Accessibility ALEKS is a new way for students to learn mathematics using the World Wide Web. Students can receive ALEKS instruction and evaluation anywhere, anytime—at home, at school, in a computer lab, day or night, 24 hours a day. ALEKS’ unique program sets the stage for success. Students respond to the immediate feedback and abundant practice opportunities. When it’s time for assessment, they are eager to show what they know. ALEKS’ individualized instruction helps students learn, raises test scores, and improves your district report card. And aren’t those the results you want?

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ALEKS SUCCESS STORIES
DEFOREST AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT DEFOREST, WISCONSIN

Challenging “For students who are advanced and need a greater challenge, we’ve found this program to be almost a godsend,” says Peter O’Neil, Director of Instruction. “Most of our very capable students don’t want to work on what they already know; they want to work ahead. Even if the curriculum is enriched, these students often want and need more. The individualized instruction we find with ALEKS is a big plus. We are impressed with the program’s great breadth. Students can explore and master a wide range of disciplines.” ALEKS’ constant reinforcement of concepts makes the program especially helpful, O’Neil “Students can work says. “Even the brightest students can anywhere—in the classroom, misunderstand a concept and be stuck as they try to move ahead. ALEKS helps them see where the lab, and at home.” their specific knowledge gaps are and requires students to clear them up. When students demonstrate that they’ve closed the gap, they can go on in the program, ALEKS makes sure they really have grasped a basic concept before they try something new.” O’Neil is also impressed with ALEKS’ flexibility, accessibility, and reasonable cost. “The online feature is outstanding. The fact that it’s on the World Wide Web makes it readily available, and students can work anywhere—in the classroom, in the lab, and at home. The cost means that we can try it out with more students and not make a huge expenditure.” Although students can use ALEKS anywhere, O’Neil says adult involvement is a plus. “We find this program works best with motivated students who have support from teachers and parents.” Contact information: Peter O’Neil, Director of Instruction DeForest Area School District DeForest, Wisconsin 608.842.6532
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ST. BERNARD’S SCHOOL TRACY, CALIFORNIA Relevant “St. Bernard’s is a K-8 school,” says teacher Gary Abate. “We use ALEKS as a supplement to our classroom teaching for students in grades 4-8. We’ve seen tremendous improvement in students who are using the program at least twice a week, and some students use the program at home as well. We have fifth and sixth graders who are doing algebra and are very proud of what they’re accomplishing. “We find that this program deals with the fundamentals in ways that interest our students,” Abate continues. “This is a visual society. The students are used to working with screens and monitors, and this program fits right into the way they like to learn.”

“We have fifth and sixth

Abate applauds ALEKS’ design. “This isn’t a graders who are doing algebra multiple choice program, and we like that. Students can’t guess from a list of possible answers. They have to show that they really and are very proud of what ‘get it.’ They must provide one right answer, not take a stab at selecting the correct response they’re accomplishing.” from a list. The way the program is set up makes it impossible for students to figure out the questions or answers ahead of time. It gives an accurate picture of what they really know.” Abate says ALEKS provides another important learning opportunity. “Our students learn the language and terminology of mathematics, and they carry that knowledge into their regular math class and into other classes, too. It takes the mystery out of math.” Contact information: Gary Abate St. Bernard’s School Tracy, CA 209.835.4560 Ext. 133

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JOHN F. KENNEDY MIDDLE SCHOOL NORTH MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA

Adaptable “We use the ALEKS program both in an after-school setting for remediation and in our magnet program in which we have high-achieving students,” says Ronnie Elmore, Reading Leader. “The students like the program; it helps them stay on task and it’s motivating. They get immediate feedback on their strengths and weaknesses, and the program continually reinforces and builds on their current knowledge and skills.” Elmore says ALEKS works for all types of students. “It helps them—and us— identify missing skills and allows students to learn those skills at their own pace. Our students use the program three or four times a week as an adjunct to our classroom instruction. We find the assessment tests and the management system help us get a handle on what the students students like the program; know and what they might just think they
know.”

“The

it helps them stay on task and it’s motivating.”
Elmore feels that some students achieve higher gains if there is a teacher present to enhance the program’s features. “We like the “Explain button” and think it’s useful for many students. Our high-achieving students do well on their own and don’t require a lot of guidance. However, we have some students with serious skill deficits and language issues, and for them, we’ve found that having facilitators in the room is essential.” Combining teacher instruction with ALEKS has many advantages, Elmore says. “We can sit down with the students, explain concepts more personally, point out what steps a student may have missed in trying to solve a problem, and interact with students as they learn. Although ALEKS works for all our students, some students benefit from being monitored more closely, and any program needs oversight.” Contact information: Ronnie Elmore John F. Kennedy Middle School North Miami Beach, FL 305.947.1451

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BYRON SYRING DELTA CENTER (INCLUDING MONTE VISTA ONLINE ACADEMY) MONTE VISTA, COLORADO Encouraging “We’ve used ALEKS with both elementary and middle school students,” says Linda Hinton, Lead Instructor. “Some students use it exclusively online, some use it onsite. Some work independently and others need a facilitator.” One of the major reasons for the center’s selection of ALEKS is its immediate feedback. “Textbooks often don’t have enough examples and they’re primarily for whole-class instruction. With ALEKS, students are able to see right away what they don’t know or what they did wrong to solve a problem. Remediation is immediate, too. Students get exactly the lessons they need to overcome their deficits. It keeps them from going down the wrong path.” Hinton says that many of the center’s middle school students are at high risk, usually because of factors having nothing to do with intelligence or ability. “Some of these students believe that math is just too hard for them to learn because they’ve had great difficulty in the past. We decided to test that assumption.

“Students get exactly the lessons they need to overcome their deficits.”

“Last year, we put 14 students who had failed both math and English on the program. We told them their challenge was to master 50 new math concepts in six weeks. The mastery had to be proven by assessment scores. At the time they entered the program, most of the students had mastered about 20 concepts.” The results were gratifying, Hinton says. “Every student made gains and some were very significant. Seven students reached or surpassed the goal. Two of the students became so interested they finished the entire course, which meant they had mastered more than 100 topics. Five others mastered approximately 70 topics. The class’s average gain was 46 topics. It was a dramatic demonstration that math was something they could do. They didn’t have to be afraid of it.”
Contact Information: Linda Hinton Monte Vista Online Learning Academy Monte Vista, CO 719.852.2212

(See Monte Vista Online Academy quantitative data on page 19)

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AKRON DIGITAL ACADEMY AKRON, OHIO Motivating “Right now, we have about 250 at-risk inner-city students in grades 5-12 using ALEKS,” says teacher William Romano. “What we really like about ALEKS is that it doesn’t allow students to fail. The program meets them where they are and takes them where they need to go. But it doesn’t allow them to move on until they demonstrate that they really understand a concept and can prove it through the Assessment mode.” ALEKS’ program design helps students catch on quickly, Romano says. “ALEKS lessons are short and the students can master some concepts in a relatively short period of time. They can see progress, and as they move along they’re not only figuring out the problems, but they’re also we really like about discovering that math is something they can understand.”

“What

ALEKS is that it doesn’t allow

ALEKS is especially useful for teaching an entire group of at-risk students whose ability and students to fail.” achievement levels differ. “No two of these students are at the same place and no two have the same issues,” Romano says. “They are all at different stages of learning the content and it would be very hard to teach them in a traditional class with a traditional textbook. ALEKS gives us the flexibility we need to answer their questions, whatever they are.” Using ALEKS, students almost can’t escape learning, Romano says. “There are all kinds of programs out there, and most students can figure how to get around the multiple choice questions or guess their way through a group of very similar problems. With ALEKS, that’s not possible. The artificial intelligence engine won’t let them ‘game the system.’ The assessments are deep, and the only way students can do well is to understand the concepts and master the math. And they’re doing that.”

Contact Information: William Romano Akron Digital Academy Akron City Schools 330.374.5590

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IRVINE UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT IRVINE, CALIFORNIA Focused “We’ve been involved with ALEKS for a long time,” says Steve Garretson, teacher and PC Support Manager. “We piloted the program eight years ago and we’ve been using it in classrooms for five years.” The program is particularly useful for students who need to pass the high school exit examination and haven’t been able to succeed on the math portion. “We don’t just turn the students loose on the computers,” Garretson says. “These students need the extra support of trained teachers. The technology is great, but when the assessments begin to show that a student has reached a point where he or she doesn’t understand a concept and has to drop back to review it, the teacher can really home in on the deficiencies. The system objectively points out what the students need to know and the teacher helps them learn it.” The Teacher Module allows teachers to track the progress of an entire class. “That’s relieves a lot of testing stress.” invaluable,” Garretson says. “When you’re preparing students for standardized testing, it’s helpful to know if there are specific areas the entire class needs help to master. ALEKS’ continual assessment really makes those topics stand out and we can focus on them in class. Cleaning up the deficiencies relieves a lot of testing stress.

“Cleaning up the deficiencies

“We’ve had great success with ALEKS; the increases in our test scores have been dramatic. We’ve seen our ALEKS students raise their Stanford 9 scores by as much as 12 national percentile ranking points, while non-ALEKS students gained less than four points.” Contact Information: Steve Garretson Irvine Unified School District Irvine, CA 949.936.5160

(See Irvine Unified School District quantitative data on page 15)

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WESTVIEW HIGH SCHOOL AVONDALE, ARIZONA Affirming “Students don’t always know the difference between recognition and knowledge,” says Robert McDowell, teacher and ALEKS Coordinator. “They think if they recognize various types of problems, they also know how to do them. That’s not necessarily true, and ALEKS teaches them to understand the concepts through doing the work.” Westview currently has nearly 300 students using ALEKS. “We tried lots of other programs and, frankly, we weren’t impressed,” McDowell says. “ALEKS is different. If the program is supported technologically, ALEKS works very well.” McDowell manages Westview’s Integrated Algebra Laboratory. “The majority of our students are in Algebra I, but we discovered that several needed Pre-Algebra credit and a few were ready for Algebra II. That could have meant rescheduling or class changes. Because we were using ALEKS, we didn’t have go through all that. Students remained in the Algebra I lab, and we simply moved them into the “ALEKS teaches students to content areas they needed. Of course, we understand the concepts through had to see that they were awarded proper credit, but it was much simpler than all doing the work.” those class changes. We also have some homebound students working on everything from Pre-Algebra to College Algebra. Web-based instruction makes that possible.” McDowell has found one group of students who are especially happy with ALEKS. “Many of our students with special needs like working on ALEKS. It allows them to review concepts as often as they wish and take the time they need to demonstrate mastery. One of our special education students passed everything from Pre-Algebra through Algebra II in less than two years. ‘The computer doesn’t get impatient with me,’ she told me. She really benefited from the self-pacing aspect of the program.” Contact Information: Robert McDowell Westview High School Avondale, AZ 623.877.2438 (See Westview High School quantitative data on page 20)
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QUANTITATIVE DATA
IRVINE UNITED SCHOOL DISTRICT Results Students in every grade [using ALEKS] outperformed their counterparts. The average ALEKS student improved his or her Stanford 9 tests scores by more than 12 national percentile ranking points. The average gain of other students was 3.36 points. The greatest improvements were found in: • • Targeted students who fell below the 20 and 75 percentile and were monitored by the same teachers. Sites that had 2-3 sessions per week for 8-12 weeks.
th th

The smallest gains were found in: • • Students already in the 90 percentile Sites where little follow-up and monitoring occurred.
th

THIRD GRADE -PERCENTILE RANKING POINTS INCREASE

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FOURTH GRADE -PERCENTILE RANKING POINTS INCREASE

FIFTH GRADE -PERCENTILE RANKING POINTS INCREASE

12

10

8

6

4

2

0

ALEKS students Non-ALEKS students

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SIXTH GRADE -PERCENTILE RANKING POINTS INCREASE

SEVENTH GRADE -PERCENTILE RANKING POINTS INCREASE

12

10

8

6

4

2

0

ALEKS students Non-ALEKS students

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EIGHTH GRADE -PERCENTILE RANKING POINTS INCREASE

12

10

8

6

4

2

0

ALEKS students Non-ALEKS students

AGGREGATE PERCENTILE RANKING POINTS INCREASE

14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0

ALEKS students Non-ALEKS students

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MONTE VISTA ONLINE ACADEMY Results In February 2003, 15 students in grades 2-5 were initially assessed on math topics from below grade level, at grade level, and beyond grade level. In the chart below, the results from the initial assessment are found in the column titled Entry Mastery. If only one number is found in a cell, the number represents the number of topics mastered below grade level. If two results are given, the first represents topics below grade level and the second represents topics at grade level. The results from the final assessment are given in the column titled Exit Mastery. Results are reported as above, but if there is a third number in a cell in this column, it represents topics mastered above grade level. The students averaged 4.6 hours on the system in a study that lasted only two weeks. The average number of new topics mastered in this brief interval was 46.5.

Name Student Student Student Student Student Student Student Student Student Student Student Student Student Student Student Averages

Grade 5 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 4 3 5 4 5 5 2

Login Hours 3 4 4.5 3 6 5 4 3.5 4 4 7 3.5 6 7 4.5 4.6

Entry Mastery 35 18 76+4 94+4 65 82+9 24 42 29 43 60 100+17 42 50 0

Exit Mastery 50 71+13 82+13 94+22 94+22+3 100+26 94+4 58+3 100+10 100+70+9 95+21 100+43+3 70 50 71

Additional Topics Mastered 15 66 15 18 54 35 74 19 81 136 56 29 28 0 71 Average Increase 46.5

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WESTVIEW HIGH SCHOOL Results Integrated Algebra IA/IB is a two-year Algebra I program. The A component is the content taught in the first semester of Algebra I, but the content is taught over the course of two semesters. Likewise, the B component is the content of the second semester of Algebra I which is then taught over two semesters. Instruction is designed to allow students to meet Arizona state math standards and to increase their understanding of and success in mathematics. Students generally were placed into this class because they were unsuccessful in a traditional classroom environment. Others were placed in the course because they were special education or late-entry students, or it was determined to be the appropriate placement. The course level was decided by their placement level and not based on their registered course. Ten students were working at different levels; six were in Pre-Algebra, three were in Algebra II, and one was taking College Algebra. Team-taught, the class period was divided into a classroom block and a computer lab block. Students spent approximately half the period in each block. Students were initially divided into two groups based on their ability. A third grouping was developed for select students who demonstrated an ability to work and learn on their own. The groups were designated A (low basic math skills), B (medium basic math skills), and C (low algebra skills). C group students were assigned full-time to the computer lab. The primary form of instruction was through the ALEKS program. The classroom block was primarily for development and re-enforcement of basic mathematical skills and concept understanding. Core skills and processes were taught and reinforced skills that are essential for students to be successful on ALEKS. First Semester, Fall 2002 Students were pre-tested using the district’s Criterion Reference Test (CRT) for Algebra I at the beginning of the semester. The group assignments were random since the level of each student was unknown. Students were re-grouped after their level was ascertained. Most were assessed by ALEKS at the Pre-Algebra level.

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The majority of the students demonstrated extreme deficiencies in basic math and operational skills. Many came to class unprepared to work. Most were known to be disruptive in other classes. At the start of the second quarter, 20 students who were doing extremely well were placed into the C group. These students were then assigned to a different computer lab and expected to work on ALEKS for the entire period. These students showed weekly gains and averaged about a five percent gain on each assessment. Second Semester, Spring 2003 The program had a slight change. A third ALEKS class was created and most of the C group was placed into this class. Other students from the B groups were also assigned to this class. The new class was taught by another teacher and was fulltime in the lab. The additional spaces in the original classes were filled with students who failed the first semester of Algebra I during the current school year. The original class structure remained the same. Students who began the school year in ALEKS tended to have mastered the PreAlgebra level and were working on the Algebra I topics. The new students tended to be at the Pre-Algebra level. The program had 140 students at the end of the school year in which the necessary data was available. The initial CRT scores had an average of 29.98% and the final CRT scores had an average of 46.87%. The average of individual student gains was 89.22%. The average gain on the Pre-Algebra assessment was 8.92% and the average gain on the Algebra assessment was 9.90%. When these percentages are compared to the percent of change in the CRT scores, it is clear that this class structure was successful. Serious technology failures not related to the ALEKS program hampered data gathering in the third and fourth quarters, when most students started to achieve success at the Algebra level. Had we been able to gather reliable data, we believe we could have demonstrated even higher gains.

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CRT INITIAL AND POST-ALEKS SCORES

50 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0

CRT initial scores CRT final scores

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ALEKS’ CURRENT COURSES
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Mathematics – LV 3 Mathematics – LV 4 Mathematics – LV 5 Mathematics – LV 6 Essential Mathematics QuickTables Middle School Geometry Middle School Math Course 1 Middle School Math Course 2 Middle School Math Course 3 Pre-Algebra Foundations of High School Math Algebra 1 High School Geometry Algebra 2 PreCalculus Trigonometry Math Prep for California HS Exit Exam (CAHSEE) Math Prep for Texas HS Exit Exam (TAKS) Introductory Chemistry Math Review for AP Calculus Math Review for AP Physics Fundamentals of Accounting (Sole Proprietorship) Fundamentals of Accounting (Corporation) Business Math AP Statistics (Quantitative)

Courses for grades 3-9 are available in English and Spanish.

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Better Math Scores

714-245-7191 | www.aleks.com | info@aleks.com

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