How one teacher accelerates student achievement with IXL!

A case study of Chicago Public Schools, presented at ISTE 2018

This year at ISTE 2018, we were joined by a special guest presenter, Betty Sellas, a 4th grade teacher at Chicago Public Schools. Betty has used IXL Math for the past eight years and IXL ELA for the past two years, and is a four-time IXL Elite 100 teacher! With her wealth of IXL knowledge, Betty shared some of her IXL best practices and discussed how she builds student achievement with the program. Continue reading to learn how Betty helps her students succeed with IXL!

Implementing IXL in the classroom

For two years, Betty used IXL as her only math curriculum and describes this as her ideal teaching method with the program. Today, she uses IXL as a supplemental tool along with a school-imposed math program and textbook. IXL is used daily for homework and differentiated instruction in the classroom.

When starting a lesson, Betty turns to IXL during whole-class instruction. She projects IXL problems on a smartboard so her students can work them out on their whiteboards. Betty even answers the first problem incorrectly so students can see IXL’s explanations and learn the right strategies to help them with future problems.

After working with the whole class, students get to work on IXL individually on their Chromebooks. Betty projects the Real-Time Center on the smartboard so she can monitor her students’ progress. If any student’s titles turn red, she knows to immediately pull those students and work with them in small groups.

In addition to the Real-Time Center, IXL Analytics provides Betty with a number of helpful reports she can use to get accurate insights about her class. For instance, she uses the Diagnostic Overview to determine if students should be working at a higher level, the Trouble Spots report to see which groups of students are having trouble in a specific skill, and the Score Grid to see if students have met their goals.

When it comes to homework with IXL, Betty can easily make assignments based on grade level or Common Core Standards. She also says one of the best things about IXL is not having to grade homework, since IXL does it for her. To keep students motivated, she uses a punch card: students earn a stamp for every IXL assignment they complete, and can turn in a full punch card for a trinket or prize. For offline testing, Betty simply pulls questions from different IXL math skills, saving her time on creating her own test problems. To reward students for their progress, Betty turns to the Awards tab to print out certificates for her students’ achievements.

Motivating students with IXL

Betty’s students love learning with IXL and she can’t imagine teaching without it. Her students are naturally competitive and are delighted to see their scores go up or win virtual prizes for their accomplishments. Rather than complete assignments with paper and pencil, her students much prefer being on a computer for homework, which keeps them engaged and motivated. And with IXL’s immediate feedback, Betty feels confident that her students can get help at the precise moment they get stuck. As an added bonus, IXL’s detailed explanations also make it easy for parents to understand and help their students when they are struggling.


Measurable results

As a result of using IXL, Betty has seen exceptional student growth. Typically, her students go up 10-20 RIT points each school year, but during the two years she used IXL Math exclusively, her class achieved record growth with 85% of her students exceeding their NWEA goals!

If you’re interested in seeing what IXL can do for your students, visit to start a free 30-day trial! Share with us in the comments below: how have you successfully used IXL in your classroom?