Tips from teachers: Best practices with IXL’s Real-Time Diagnostic

Sheila Berger is an IXL Professional Learning Specialist with nearly a decade of experience as both a classroom teacher and instructional coach for Pre-K through 12th grade.

The IXL Real-Time Diagnostic is an easy and effective way to monitor any student’s learning. Unlike a traditional benchmark assessment, the Real-Time Diagnostic is always available, which means students’ proficiency levels, tailored recommendations, and growth can always be up to date! To get the most out of this powerful tool, there are three best practices that I recommend teachers keep in mind.

1. Share the ‘why’

Before sharing with students how to best engage in IXL’s Real-Time Diagnostic, it’s helpful to share the why first. Once the Real-Time Diagnostic has students’ diagnostic results, it creates personalized action plans to help them close gaps and maximize growth. Plus, it provides you with reports that help you plan small-group and individualized instruction.

When teachers have an open discussion around the importance of personalization, we can create more buy-in from our students. In turn, they better understand what to expect, and engage more readily and purposefully.

2. Set expectations and procedures

Students are used to having expectations and procedures set in any learning environment. Using IXL’s Real-Time Diagnostic should be no different. Traditional procedures might include setting up a distraction-free environment and making sure your students have scratch paper and a pencil handy to work through questions as needed. Advanced high school students can also use a calculator when working in the IXL Diagnostic if they commonly use one in class.

What should students do in the Diagnostic arena?

When students first use the diagnostic, explain that they should work until they receive a notification stating “Your diagnostic is currently complete!” Communicate to your learners if you want them to do this in one sitting, or by a specific day or time.

Image showing the screen students see when they are done diagnosing. It has text reading "Nice work! Your diagnostic is currently complete!" and a button that says "Reveal your levels."

Diagnostic tip: To capture proficiency data at a fixed point in time, school administrators can set up Snapshot windows. If a Snapshot window is set up, the student will see a notification telling them to complete their diagnostic by a specified date.

Because of the adaptive nature of IXL’s Real-Time Diagnostic, students might receive challenging questions above their level. If they’re unsure about a question, they can click “I don’t know this yet” and move on. Set expectations around the use and purpose of the “I don’t know this yet” button. For example, it’s not the “I don’t feel like it” button.

Also, let students know they can take a break! If students leave the Diagnostic arena, they can come back at any time and pick up where they left off.

How do students keep their levels up to date?

One of the best parts about IXL’s Real-Time Diagnostic is that you can have up-to-date levels at any time. (I like to think of it as the greatest progress monitoring tool ever.) Implement a procedure that encourages students to answer questions in the Diagnostic arena for just 10 minutes a week.

Scheduling a predictable day, like “Maintenance Mondays,” each week is a great way to ensure students are maintaining up-to-date diagnostic levels. For example, every Monday during bell work students should enter the Diagnostic arena and answer questions until they receive a notification that their diagnostic is up-to-date.

Diagnostic tip: From the Diagnostic Teacher page, click the star next to “Keep your Real-Time Diagnostic levels pinpointed!” When you click the star, the Diagnostic will be included in your students’ suggestions list in the upper-right corner of their Recommendations wall. It’s an easy way to encourage students to keep levels updated weekly!

3. Acknowledge the growth process

Explain to students that they will not get every question correct, but the diagnostic will tell us what they know and recommend what they are ready to learn next. Each student’s personalized recommendations will help them to develop their abilities over time and broaden their skill set.

How do students increase their diagnostic levels?

Using the Diagnostic Action Plan is key. Students should be working on skills that come from their Diagnostic Action Plan between weekly diagnostic maintenance.

We suggest having students reach proficiency (a SmartScore of at least 80) on two recommended skills per week to maximize academic gains.

Recommended skills are tailored to each student based on their diagnostic responses. They are personalized to the right level of difficulty and highlight the perfect skills to help students make progress right away.

How do you track progress?

Build goal-setting habits using our diagnostic tracking worksheets, which help children set personal goals and celebrate progress towards them.

Teachers can also monitor student growth as they use the diagnostic. Check out this blog post for more ideas on tracking student growth with the Real-Time Diagnostic.

Diagnostic tip: Insights from previous Snapshots are always available in IXL Analytics, allowing stakeholders to track student progress between Snapshots.

With the crucial insights provided by the Real-Time Diagnostic, you can make smarter decisions about how to reach students and keep them on track. You can find even more strategies, as well as resources for students, on the Diagnostic Hub.