Middle School Girls Excel in Math with IXL

Seventh and 8th-grade students at the all-girls Excel Academy are making strong gains in math thanks to IXL. Math teacher Jerry Dudley says IXL Math is helping his students fill learning gaps and master grade-level skills. He says, “IXL Math really puts more meaning into how you implement your lessons. It reinforces skills and transitions smoothly into a lesson. I can’t imagine teaching without it.”

The Challenge: Meeting the Needs of All Learners

Excel Academy is a preK–8 public magnet school in urban Washington D.C. As an urban all-girls school, Excel Academy strives to instill confidence, accelerate learning, and provide leadership opportunities to set students up for college and career success.

Jerry teaches two sections each of 7th- and 8th-grade math, with more than 100 students in total. His students come to the classroom with a wide range of skill levels, meaning many students are missing prerequisite skills they need to successfully master grade-level content. Jerry needed a solution that would make it easier to monitor progress towards learning goals and differentiate instruction for learners with different needs.

An Easier Way to Teach and Learn

Jerry had used IXL Math in another school district before he joined Excel Academy and loved how easy it was to integrate into his teaching. He was hooked when he saw the growth his students achieved. When he came to Excel, he was thrilled to discover that IXL was already in place.

Jerry integrates IXL Math into his daily lessons, which makes lesson planning faster and easier. After teaching a lesson, students are given time to practice the skill on IXL. He says, “It really helps the lesson flow and reinforces the learning.” 

The IXL Real-Time Diagnostic lets him monitor student progress, identify skill gaps, and adjust his instruction to meet the needs of the class or small groups. He uses IXL Analytics to group students for tiered small-group instruction. “Students can see their own reports, so they can see exactly where they need to practice and what they need to work on next. They like to see how much they’ve grown,” he says. IXL Analytics has also made data talks with his instructional team easier—all of the information he needs to understand his students’ progress is right there.

Making Gains in Math Proficiency—Even in a Pandemic

Jerry says that for IXL Math, “the proof is in the pudding.” His students have continued to grow and make gains, even during the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Seventh-grade students averaged 4% gains above their expected growth, and 8th graders achieved 19% gains above their expected growth this past semester, completing more than 63,000 math problems as a group. 

He says the real-time feedback that his students get from IXL goes a long way towards keeping them motivated. IXL Math tells them instantly whether they have gotten a problem right or wrong and provides immediate reteaching, so students understand why their answer was incorrect. And students love the certificates they earn when mastering new skills.

Jerry’s students are also demonstrating more confidence in their learning. Students who have mastered a skill will volunteer to help peers or students in younger grades. He also sees more of them raising their hands in class to participate.

By the beginning of March 2021, his students had mastered 477 skills and demonstrated proficiency in 978, completing more than 900 hours on IXL. Jerry says, “As an educator, I am looking at the mountaintop—I want to see my kids climbing that mountain and excelling. Every week, we look at the class reports for IXL together, and I say to the girls, take a look at this bar graph, see how far you’ve come. Let’s keep growing—show me those skyscrapers!”

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!