WHITTIER -- Rio Hondo College math professors are sculpting a plan to help area high school students strengthen their math skills or make up credits, an effort that blends the guidance of a classroom teacher with the flexibility of an advanced math software program.
At the core of the program are a dozen self-paced, software-based review courses covering integrated math, algebra I and II, and geometry -– all aligned with the new California Standards. Students would take the courses in a special afterschool class with help from a full-time teacher funded by Rio Hondo College.
“The beauty of our plan is that it will provide students with the flexibility to pursue topics at their own pace and to focus on areas where they need the most help, as well as to tap into the knowledge of an onsite teacher,” said Rio Hondo College math professor Mark Littrell.
Littrell is leading the effort, along with math professors Cameron English and Matt Pitassi, and Interim Dean of Math and Sciences Vann Priest.
Littrell said the group came up with the idea after hearing about the challenges faced by local high school students, many of whom graduate without the math credits needed for college or who require remedial help once enrolled in higher education.
The advent of the new California Standards and the online testing they require prompted local schools to add student computers and high-speed Internet service, making it possible to use an online course.
Rio Hondo chose ALEKS, short for Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces – a program Littrell has used at the College for more than a decade and at home with his own children.
Developed by scientists at UC Irvine, ALEKS is now part of McGraw-Hill Education, and is used by millions of students across the globe. The program uses adaptive questioning to assess student knowledge. It reassesses students as they progress through course modules to ensure topics are learned and retained.
“ALEKS personalizes the content and learning experience for each student, building on their strengths and ensuring they are ready to learn each new concept,” Littrell said.
The program also alerts teachers to specific challenges students encounter, allowing them to personalize help.
“That’s where the second part of our plan comes in – we want to hire teachers to staff an afterschool class where students do their ALEKS work,” Littrell said. “The teachers will be able to identify clusters of students who may need additional guidance or clarification of specific concepts.”
The program is expected to launch by fall 2016.