Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Crew Review: Aleks Math


I am grateful to have been given a chance to try out {which stands for Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces}, an online math assessment and curriculum for grades 3 through high school (click for course products).  Using artificial intelligence, ALEKS assesses and creates a math learning plan for the unique needs and abilities of your child.  You can view a tour of ALEKS here.

It is correlated to the common core standards, if that is important to you.

Once a child is registered for ALEKS and a course placement is made {view this placement chart}, ALEKS uses a required 30-minute {approximately} assessment to determine what the child knows and does not know. After the assessment, a pie is created which shows what your child knows {the darker colors} compared to what he should know for that course level.  Here is Luke's pie for 3rd grade:      

 {Just so you know, I'm totally cool with this pie, since we use Math U See and it has a unique scope and sequence to math education.}

If your child's pie is less than 15% full or greater than 85%, ALEKS will make a recommendation on course placement; otherwise, your child will work from the pie to select topics and skills.

The ALEKS database of FAQs is enormous!  So I'm going to link a few questions and answers that may help you in deciding how ALEKS progresses students, assesses student progress and reviews material:

And here is an entire page dedicated to using ALEKS in the homeschool.

There is also a math fact aspect of the program that you can use or not.  It is called QuickTables.   You can view a demo of QuickTables at their website.

Things I like about ALEKS:
  • Requires an assessment before starting
  • Great for filling in holes in learning because the instruction is targeted at areas that need improvement
  • The child can chose his own topics to work on (see below)
  • You can create quizzes for your students and assign them whenever you want
  • Courses are available specifically to help with SAT prep and transitions from high school to college.
  • A truly individualized math learning plan
  • This is not multiple choice.  ALEKS uses a unique system for entering math responses:
On the bottom third of the screen, your student will type in their answer in the while rectangle, using the blue buttons to type in fractions, powers, etc.

Things that did not work well for us:
  • The child can chose his own topics to work on.  Yep, you saw this above.  I believe it is human nature that we do not like doing things we feel we do poorly in.  But in math (just like life), you have to work on it all.  So when my Ben chose not to work on a couple areas in which he really needed some help, there was no way I could change the parameters to make him work on it for a few days.
  • I found this program to be hard for my 3rd grader, who is not a strong reader.  All the teaching and lessons are printed on the screen and there is no option for a voice-over prompt. I ended up sitting with him and reading the assessment and lesson because I didn't want his reading comprehension to get in the way of his math skill aquisition. If I wanted to use ALEKS as his primary math to help free-up some teaching time for myself, this probably wouldn't be the right tool for him.
A subscription to ALEKS is $19.95 per month with six ($99.95)and twelve-month ($179.99) options to save you money.  Thankfully, they have family discounts as well.

If you have never tried ALEKS before, I highly recommend their 2-month free trial:

Please go to the TOS Crew blog to see what others think of ALEKS:


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