IXL Math: Building Skills for Success in Algebra and Beyond

A case study of Los Amigos High School in Fountain Valley, California

Each year at Los Amigos High School, a Title I school in Southern California near Anaheim, 15-20% of incoming 9th graders arrive lacking some of the skills necessary to succeed in high school math. Christine Montes, the Math Department Chair at Los Amigos, introduced IXL Math to give teachers a solution to address the learning needs of every math student and close their readiness gaps. She says, “IXL builds the foundation that our students need to succeed with higher-level math.”

Addressing Skill Gaps for High School Math Students 

Los Amigos serves a majority Hispanic population with a large number of non-native English speakers. Students arrive from middle school with a broad range of academic backgrounds and math skill levels. Christine says, “At the middle school level, many students move on to high school and some are ready and some are not. But we don’t offer a remedial math course—all of our students start with Algebra. We have to be able to identify their skill gaps, get them up to grade level, and support them so they don’t fall behind in their classes.”

Christine first brought IXL to Los Amigos on a trial basis for a couple of algebra classes, and the after-school tutoring and intervention program. After seeing how IXL Math helped students build essential math skills, the school purchased the program for all Algebra, Geometry, and Algebra II students. 

Building Math Skills Through Targeted Practice and Instant Feedback

Students at Los Amigos use IXL Math both in the classroom and for homework. Teachers assign skills aligned to the unit they are teaching in their math textbook and learners continue practicing the skills at home over the course of each week. Students get instant feedback as they work through problems, so they know right away whether they are on track. When they get a problem wrong, IXL gives them a detailed explanation so they can understand where they made an error before trying again. 

Christine appreciates the way IXL Math adjusts the difficulty of questions for each student’s skill level. She also likes knowing that IXL provides an accurate view of students’ knowledge. “They can’t cheat their way around the program—and that’s a good thing!” she says. 

Laying a Foundation for Success in Higher Math 

Christine has seen a noticeable difference in student outcomes since introducing IXL Math. “There is definitely a correlation between grades and the amount of time students spend practicing in IXL,” she says. Intervention students who completed their IXL assignments improved by at least a letter grade, on average. 

Christine says that IXL Math has better prepared students for the computer-based state assessments in California and for success in advanced math classes. “IXL builds the foundation that students need before they go on to tackle more complex math,” she says. 

Keeping Students on Track During Distance Learning 

Los Amigos moved to a distance learning model in response to the coronavirus pandemic and IXL Math became an even bigger part of students’ learning experience. Learners worked on IXL during class time and teachers used Live Classroom to monitor students and provide immediate intervention for those who were struggling. 

Christine says, “Students definitely missed the opportunity to be in the classroom, but this has given them a chance to see what kind of learner they are and take charge of their own education. IXL allows them to work independently and continue making progress!” 

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

To try out IXL in your classroom, visit www.ixl.com/membership/teachers/trial for a free 30-day trial!