How Does IXL Math Impact Learning? Two Studies Show Results!

Administrator Blog Series, Part 6

March 25, 2016


In the Classroom, For Admins

We don’t want you to just take our word for it that IXL Math works. That’s why we’re sharing the evidence from two independent research studies: one from an RTI model in a rural Kentucky high school and another from a before-school math lab in a California elementary school. Read on to find out the results!

From “Needs Improvement” to “Distinguished” in a Kentucky High School

A case study was conducted at a rural Kentucky high school which had been designated as “Needs Improvement” based on low test scores compared to state averages. In 2011, the school was ranked in the bottom 5% of schools statewide and selected for intense, targeted intervention.

As part of the two-year turnaround program, the school’s Response to Intervention (RTI) program was overhauled and IXL Math was provided as the only program for additional math support.

As a result of these changes, the school made a dramatic about-face, rocketing from the bottom 5% of state rankings to the 97th percentile. In 2014, the school was designated a “School of Distinction” by the state commissioner of education and now serves as an example for school improvement for the rest of the state.

The study authors point to the use of a committed RTI approach and differentiated instructional support for students as key factors in the turnaround—and IXL Math was a core part of this RTI model.

Improving Outcomes in a 4th Grade Before-School Math Lab

In a recent study, 4th graders using IXL Math in a before-school math lab demonstrated significant gains on the math portion of the California Standardized Test (CST). The math lab was implemented at San Joaquin Elementary School in California, and the program ran from January through April in both 2011 and 2012.

The study examined the impact of the program by analyzing test results of groups of students for the two years before the implementation of the lab, the two years during which the lab was in place, and one year after the lab was discontinued. In 2011, the year the math lab was put in place, there was a 10-point increase on the math portion of the CST. In 2012, CST results went up another 13 points, for a total increase of 23 points compared to pre-math lab results. In 2013, when the math lab was discontinued, the school saw a 24-point drop on 4th grade CST scores in math.

The researcher concluded, “This data showed the clearest evidence that students scored significantly higher when the lab was available to them.” Since IXL Math was the only intervention provided during the math lab, the study provides strong evidence that IXL Math has a positive impact on standardized test scores, even when used for a limited time.

There are lots of IXL success stories, but these two demonstrate how valuable IXL can be, from elementary to high school and with a variety of implementation models.

To read the full research report, download it here.

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All Comments (5)

frank March 27, 2016 at 1:49 pm

Actually, it is not very helpful. It docks at least 10 points every time you get something wrong. Its frustrating when it is a hard skill.


The IXL Team March 28, 2016 at 11:09 am

Hi Frank, thanks for your feedback! We’re sorry you get frustrated when the SmartScore drops. The intention of the SmartScore is to give you enough practice to demonstrate mastery of a skill. We know that everyone learns at their own pace, which is why the score doesn’t decrease much at the beginning of a practice session. As you progress through a skill, you’ll face more difficult problems, and you must consistently answer a certain number of problems correctly in order to reach 100. We know it’s a challenge, but unlike percentage-based systems, the SmartScore makes it possible for everyone to reach 100!


Adithyan April 5, 2016 at 8:46 pm

IXL is impacting my learning too. I used to be really bad at competetive exams, but now I stand at the top of all rankings! This really helps. Thanks IXL!


The IXL Team April 6, 2016 at 9:51 am

Hi Adithyan, we’re thrilled to hear about your progress and how IXL has helped you. Keep up the great work!


Nasir Cohen April 20, 2016 at 6:34 am

IXL is awesome!!! 🙂


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