Giving Students Ownership of Learning—In Class and At Home

A case study of St. Norbert Catholic School in Orange, California

The mission of St. Norbert Catholic School is to help all students achieve their personal best—in academics and beyond. IXL has helped the school shift to a student-driven learning model that targets instruction and practice to each student’s individual needs. And the numbers show this approach is working: IXL has helped accelerate achievement, with students averaging 1.4 years of learning gains in math in a single school year. 

Filling in Knowledge Gaps to Help Students Succeed

St. Norbert, located in Orange, California, serves 300 students in grades PreK-8. In 2014, the school began using IXL Math for middle school students as well as IXL English Language Arts and IXL Social Studies for grades 4 and up. In the following years, they expanded IXL Math to grades 2 and up. 

The school initially implemented IXL to help students fill knowledge gaps from previous grades and to provide supplemental practice to support their textbook curricula. Over time, teachers have integrated the program more fully into their classrooms and started using the IXL Real-Time Diagnostic and IXL Analytics to drive instruction. Assistant Principal Marian Quiroz says, “We use IXL to reinforce the standards. Not only is it a tool for teachers to bolster the lessons being taught, but with the diagnostic, teachers can see exactly where students’ strengths are and where they have gaps in their understanding.”

Targeted, Student-Driven Instruction 

Sixth-grade teacher Megan Ouellette uses IXL Math and IXL English Language Arts in her classroom. For math, she introduces a lesson each day through direct teaching and then gives her students 20 or 30 minutes to practice the skill on their own in IXL. She uses IXL’s Live Classroom to monitor what students are working on and how they are doing in real time. For language arts, she assigns skill practice in IXL two or three times each week to reinforce the concepts she is teaching. 

Megan appreciates how easy it is to match skills in IXL to the lessons she is teaching by using IXL’s skill plans, which provide custom-built skills that align to state standards and textbooks. She also loves the insights she gains from the IXL Analytics reports. She says, “For teachers, it really deepens our knowledge of our students. I know exactly what each student needs and can narrow in on the exact zone where they need improvement.”  

Accelerating Achievement Through Student Ownership of Learning

This targeted approach to instruction has helped St. Norbert’s teachers accelerate achievement for their students, especially in math. They now often see 1.4 years of growth in a single year for students using IXL. Megan says, “As we’ve used IXL more and really started to understand its capabilities, scores are increasing, especially in math but also now in English language arts. The more we use it, the higher our scores go.”

Successful Distance Learning with IXL

In the spring of 2020, St. Norbert shifted to a distance learning model during the COVID-19 pandemic. IXL has helped them make the transition as smooth as possible. Megan says, “Since we were already using IXL in the classroom, students were familiar with it. We just continued with live lessons on Google Meet and independent practice on IXL. They just jumped right in with it.”

A copy of the full case study is available for download here.

To try out IXL in your classroom, visit for a free 30-day trial!