Strong adaptive learning makes traditional math curriculum more useful

Learning rating

Community rating

Based on 4 reviews

Privacy rating

Expert evaluation by Common Sense



Subjects & Skills

Character & SEL, Critical Thinking, Math

Great for

Assessment, Differentiation

Price: Free to try, Paid
Platforms: Web

Pros: Provides tons of data to teachers and students, and competency-based progression is far better than grades.

Cons: Math content is mostly traditional, decontextualized, and dry.

Bottom Line: For kids who crave a traditional mastery-style math learning experience and have good self-regulation skills, this is a great option.

ALEKS is designed to be a self-paced, self-guided, self-contained math learning tool for students to use mostly within a classroom. The developer recommends using its product a minimum of three hours a week in the classroom, alongside other lessons, which feels like a lot. But given the depth, richness, and strong adaptive nature of the tool, it's entirely possible for students to get through an entire course of study on their own with little teacher intervention. This can free the teacher to use class time for small group instruction, one-on-one tutoring, or hands-on supplemental activities while other students work independently.

It's probably a good idea, though, to build in some discovery-based activities and in-depth exploration of real-world applications to promote and maintain student interest in math, because the content itself is about as dry as it gets. This is all about skill building, not invoking a sense of wonder or empowerment with and in the world of mathematics. 

After taking an initial assessment to gauge their competency level, students are presented with a pie chart of competency, a timeline of content to master, and a number of ways to dive into that content. Once they select a subject, they're given a fairly typical textbook-style lesson, with written explanations and vocabulary, worked example problems, and then a series of practice questions. ALEKS gives feedback on what students are doing well and struggling with along the way, and it either speeds or slows progression as it measures successful work. As kids get through lessons, sectors of their competency pie grow to reflect their emerging skill.

Teachers get this data, too, at the individual and class levels, on a very robust and easy-to-navigate dashboard. They can view progression by assignment, topic, and state standard, as well as filter students by class and numerous other features. From this data, teachers can use built-in curriculum resources to target individual kids or groups with in-class activities to support learning. 

In a lot of ways, ALEKS is the best possible iteration of textbook-style learning in the 21st century. It's an interactive book that knows exactly where kids are and what they're struggling with, and that's great. Decades of education research show that when kids work within their zone of proximal development, they're far more likely to succeed, and ALEKS keeps them there at all times. 

However, the way the content is presented still reinforces the decontextualized "when am I ever gonna use this" notion of mathematics. There are few opportunities to use skills in real-world contexts or to explore big ideas or, for that matter, any rich conceptual exploration. For independent, already curious learners, ALEKS will efficiently give them the skills they need to pursue these deeper explorations, but for many kids, it can be a dangerous curiosity-killer -- a boring use of three hours a week in front of a computer screen. 

Learning Rating

Overall Rating

The actual math experiences here are pretty comparable to those in a direct-instruction-style classroom, so not the most exciting; but adaptive progression will keep kids right in the zone of just-challenging-enough content.


Content is delivered much like a textbook, with examples, boldface definitions, and practice problems, but videos and worked examples give plenty of support. The adaptive tech is very strong, so appropriate concepts are presented one at a time.


For students, every subject has a wealth of support options. For teachers, the dashboard offers tons of great curriculum resources, guides, and rich student data for targeting every student's specific needs.

Common Sense reviewer

Community Rating

A take on A student's perspective

Pages that reflect the student's perspective on

Aleks, like many other online math resources, is only viable for a short while. The nature of the online resource runs students into the ground with the teacher's ability to assign an amount of topics every week. Only strengthen the instructor's ability to invade home life with meaningless, mindless work that can only benefit the students that really are excited about going super far in math. Otherwise, it is a wretched program that threatens student grades, and decreases student's willingness to continue participating in the program before they give up. Much like me and many of my peers this year, I have grown tired of Aleks, and have started to burn out on the program, while others have put it off for weeks because the program invades their time at home and is, just, not a good solution to keep many of us in the mood to learn math. And the Knowledge Checks are horrific. They catch you at any moment. The worst part of their nature is the set time that they happen. My instructor, for example, has Knowledge Checks about every 5 hours, or every 10 completed topics. So if you only take 2 hours to complete 10 topics (and it gets harder as you go), you are left with 3 hours to complete 10 more topics that you may have a little bit of a harder time grasping because the math does not click as fast; leaving you to spend your 3 hours reading and re-reading the instructions instead of completing topics. Probably the most annoying thing about this fact is the teacher's choice to grade you on your progress enough. As helpful and innocent as it may be, my instructor grades based on how many more topics we have learned from the last time she graded, and be aware, the Knowledge Checks will knock off or add topics from/to the overall amount you "know," leaving some of us to have to learn 30 topics opposed to the regular 10; consequently, if you are lucky to have a nose for math, your probably gonna get shunned by the others in the class because of how fast you breeze through the Knowledge Check, and how little effort you have to put in to get the grade you want.

All in all, Aleks, from one standpoint is good, mediocare at best, really, for teaching kids math. It allows the teachers to further cut time out of weekends and weeknights that you do not have to worry about homework, and gives them more leverage to hit you where it hurts: Your Grade. Which for us high schoolers is really important if we wanna, you know, have a successful post high school and post school experience.

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Privacy Rating

Data Safety How safe is this product?

  • Unclear whether this product supports interactions between trusted users.
  • Personal information can be displayed publicly.
  • User-created content is not filtered for personal information before being made publicly visible.

Data Rights What rights do I have to the data?

  • Users can create or upload content.
  • Processes to access or review user data are available.
  • Unclear whether this product provides processes to modify data for authorized users.

Ads & Tracking Are there advertisements or tracking?

  • Personal information is not shared for third-party marketing.
  • Unclear whether this product displays traditional or contextual advertisements.
  • Personalised advertising is displayed.

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