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Gr. 6-8 Math Supplemental Program Update 

Dear Gr. 6-8 Teachers of Mathematics,

This past January, the district invited middle school math teachers to participate in a pilot of McGraw Hill's online adaptive assessment platform, called ALEKS.  The purpose of the pilot was to compare the two digital supplementary programs, IXL and ALEKS, for continued use in 2023-2024.

10 teachers, representing all 5 middle schools as well as the Special Education department, participated in the trial and its accompanying training sessions.  Thank you to all who offered their time, both in and out of the classroom, for training, trying, troubleshooting, and providing evaluative feedback.  Your efforts and insights provided the necessary data to determine a plan for next year's supplementary math software that will best support our students.

Middle school principals have evaluated the team's feedback and support the decision to make ALEKS available alongside Reveal Math in the coming school year.  The district will be providing ALEKS licenses for all middle school teachers and students.  Read more below as to how we came to this decision.


As you know, we have had districtwide access to IXL for adaptive math assessment since entering emergency remote learning.  Since then, some teachers have come to rely on IXL as a supplemental platform to provide randomized or adaptive question sets over and above what the core curriculum, Reveal Math, offers.  The pilot group pointed to a continued need for these types of practice activities throughout the trial period.  Based on this information, one key component of the ALEKS trial was to determine how well it meets WRSD math teachers' instructional needs, as compared with IXL.

Having tested ALEKS from March through May of this school year, and having discussed its performance in the classroom, the majority of the participating teachers have recommended that the district purchase ALEKS as its supplemental adaptive assessment platform for math for the 2023-2024 school year.  Among other feedback, the group notes the following features that helped put ALEKS a step above IXL:

  1. ALEKS provides more text-based guidance to students who answer questions incorrectly, and it gives teachers flexible options to allow students additional question chances.
  2. Students who were already familiar with IXL generally reported that they were more motivated and engaged by ALEKS.  One factor in this response was the shorter duration of each topic-oriented question set.  This system offers more rewards and breaks than IXL's SmartScore system.
  3.  ALEKS offers built-in, focused math fact fluency practice for any middle school student who needs this form of intervention. Teachers can customize these activities for students in a number of ways.

District administrators will be working to arrange the necessary training for the full group of middle school math educators so that you will have the knowledge and skills you need to utilize ALEKS next year.  We encourage everyone to learn about its features and give them a try with support from your fellow teachers, your principal, and Matt Haynes, MS Technology Integration Specialist.

Principals have also discussed making room in next year's schedule for the ongoing professional development and teacher conversations that will help us all become more aware of the opportunities that adaptive learning platforms present in the middle school math classroom.  At minimum, you can expect that we will take a moment near the midpoint of the 2023-2024 school year to gather fresh feedback from teachers and students using the platform, so that we can consider plans beyond the end of next year.  Look out for more communication about these gatherings.

As you continue to gain comfort with McGraw Hill’s Reveal Math program, we welcome your input about the ALEKS supplement and its place within your wider curriculum.  As questions arise, please reach out to your principal or Matt Haynes for support.

Posted by jane_daly On 09 June, 2023 at 9:15 AM