Answering the 4 critical PLC questions

With the help of IXL!

If implemented properly, professional learning communities (PLCs) can be a game changer in supporting student growth. The key to a successful PLC is having meaningful data on student learning. The good news is, IXL provides you with the tools and insights that can help you address the four essential questions PLCs should focus on!

PLC question #1: What do we expect our students to learn? 

To assist in answering this question, encourage your teachers to look at IXL’s standards alignments, which show you the skills that match each strand of your state’s standards. These can be found under the Learning tab, as well as in IXL Skill Plans for Common Core states. Your PLC can work together to determine which strands are essential for each grade level (the must-knows vs the good-to-knows), and then identify the corresponding IXL skills that students will work to achieve proficiency or mastery in.

Facilitating a conversation with your staff about SmartScore goal setting is also important. A SmartScore of 100 represents mastery, but that may be too challenging for some students or some skills. Research shows that students who reach proficiency (SmartScore of 80) on IXL skills outperform their peers on state assessments, so that can be a great goal to set! 

*Tip: Teachers can use the “Jump a Level” feature to see how the level of difficulty within a skill progresses, which can help them determine an appropriate SmartScore target.


PLC question #2: How will we know if they learned it? 

IXL Analytics gives teachers an easy way to check whether students are achieving their goals on each skill. For example, the Score Grid is a quick way to check student SmartScores on the skills they have been working on. Teachers can also turn the Standards filter on to see all the skills sorted by strand.

Another useful report is Skill Analysis. If a teacher has had their entire classroom working on the same skill, use this report to see which level of difficulty each student is currently working at within the skill. In your PLC, teachers can pull up this report, compare their data, and have a discussion about what each of them did in their instruction to help students succeed. 


PLC question #3: How will we respond when they don’t learn? 

For this inquiry, IXL’s Trouble Spots report is a powerful tool. It prioritizes the skills (and the specific level of difficulty with in that skill) that students are struggling with the most, so teachers can determine whether they need to work on those skills with the entire class, a small group, or with individual students. And, the report provides teachers exact questions that students answered incorrectly, allowing them to use these questions to address the issue.

*Tip: Click on a student name from the Trouble Spots report to view their Questions Log. From there, you can look for patterns or misconceptions and address those with the student.

IXL also offers built-in resources to help students work out their trouble spots. Learners can use the in-skill recommendations for the skills in which they have a trouble spot to help them build foundational knowledge, fill gaps in understanding, and prepare them to go back and tackle that trouble spot skill. 


PLC question #4: How will we respond if they already know it? 

In my experience, there is often a lot of effort put into the students who are not learning, but not as much attention paid to those students who frequently understand the material.  

To provide enrichment opportunities, encourage these students to explore the skills on their personalized Recommendation Wall. Specifically, they can look for skills that are labeled “Next Up”, “Try Something New”, and “From the Diagnostic Arena”–these will help students build on their existing knowledge!  

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