Growth mindset and the IXL SmartScore

Thanks to Carol Dweck’s work, instilling a growth mindset in our students has become a goal of educators and parents around the world. In Mindset, Dweck uncovers the power of having a growth mindset, a belief that intelligence is something that can be developed, rather than something that is static or fixed.  As educators, we want to foster growth mindsets in all of our students. We want them to overcome challenges, persevere through their struggles, and believe in themselves as they learn and grow each day. 

As I travel the country and work with educators to implement IXL into their classrooms, schools, and districts, I often get asked about the SmartScore and why, with all we know about growth mindset, we would name our proprietary scoring system a “SmartScore”. 

To answer this question, let’s take a closer look at IXL’s SmartScore, what it is, and how it works:  

IXL’s SmartScore is not a percentage; it is calculated based on factors such as question difficulty, answer accuracy, and consistency. It is the most accurate possible measure of a student’s understanding of a specific skill. So, it is called a “smart” score because the score is smart in how it is calculated. Think of smartphones, smart TVs, and all the other smart devices in our lives. “Smart” does not describe the user, but rather the device—and the same is true for IXL’s SmartScore. 

Also, remember that a SmartScore of 100 indicates mastery, meaning the student has shown they can answer the most rigorous questions correctly and consistency. However, mastery is difficult to achieve and it might not be appropriate for all students on every skill. Consider setting lower SmartScore goals (such as 80, which indicates proficiency) when students are first introduced to a concept and encourage them to grow from there. 


Now that we have a better understanding of the SmartScore, let’s explore how IXL promotes a growth mindset with students:

First, because the SmartScore is not a percentage, students are always able to learn from their mistakes, improve, and ultimately achieve mastery. IXL never stops students from continuing on; mastery is always in reach for all students, and they have as many opportunities as they need to achieve authentic mastery. 

IXL also rewards students for both effort and achievement. Students receive awards for a variety of achievements, including time spent on IXL, number of questions answered, number of skills mastered, and more. Celebrating a variety of milestones inspires students to keep working and growing, especially when it may be challenging. 

As you implement IXL in your classroom, I encourage you to discuss the SmartScore with your students. Remind them that challenges help them grow and that while it will take effort, they will improve with practice!