Review by Jenny Bristol, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2018

IXL

Immediate feedback and breadth a major plus, despite emphasis on drills

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Skills
N/A
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Pre-K–12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (76 Reviews)

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Pros: Helps students develop confidence and clearly track progress; teachers get immediate stats on their students' trouble spots.

Cons: Drilling limits opportunities for kids to apply skills in real-world ways and questions include too-frequent repetition.

Bottom Line: Students can improve targeted skills with tons of practice modules and visually appealing tasks.

IXL provides class and individual reports with item analysis, usage, and trouble spots that allow parents and teachers to get the specific information they need to differentiate instruction for their kids. The standard Trouble Spot report is very useful for quickly identifying where students are having a hard time and which students need extra help, and the Recommendations page gets students working on questions at their level right away, across the breadth of topics that IXL provides. To set an appropriate math level for each student, have them regularly complete the Diagnostic tool, which narrows down where they should currently focus.

Pre-K kids may have a hard time with navigation at first and might benefit from some verbal directions. Fortunately, the site offers audio support for grades Pre-K through 2. Older students may also need some guidance as to which skills they should practice, though. Teachers can suggest skills for classes to practice, but there's no way for teachers to assign certain tasks to specific students or groups of students through the dashboard.

IXL can be a useful resource for teachers all over the world, as there are editions for many countries that are tailored to fit local curricula and standards. The Inspiration section includes professional learning services to help teachers get the most out of IXL, along with printable resources, and textbook and Common Core alignments.

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IXL is a website and Chrome app with thousands of math, language, social studies, science, and Spanish practice questions and modules that meet nearly all the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for K-12 and some of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for grades 2-5. You'll find games covering the fundamentals through subject-specific high school lessons.

Math lessons cover Pre-K to 12th grade and include questions such as comparing fractions using real recipes, classifying a system of equations, and graphing two equations by dragging points. Language arts practice -- again, Pre-K to 12th grade -- focuses on grammar and vocabulary skills. Science and social studies each cover 2nd through 8th grade topics. Spanish learners can complete Level 1 of the language.

Students practice one skill at a time and earn points and ribbons when they get questions correct. Once they reach 100 points for a skill, kids earn a stamp in their book, encouraging them to master other skills to earn virtual prizes. Practice sessions are timed. Questions within a section are often very repetitive, but students looking for variety can jump around from topic to topic under the Recommendations section.

The targeted activities in IXL -- pretty much drill-and-practice in format and approach -- can provide extensive opportunities for independent practice. Unlike many sites where students do drills, though, IXL gives feedback on how to get better. Incorrect answers are explained thoroughly with written explanations and examples. These explanations may help strong readers, but a multimedia approach would support a wider range of learners.

Overall, IXL's focus on repetition and its lack of variety in question format are its major drawbacks. However, it gives students the tools they need to improve in many subjects and build confidence across the board, allowing for independent targeted practice with immediate feedback. And, the site's personalized skill recommendations help keep things fresh. Still, IXL's learning isn't well-integrated across each subject.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

When it comes to drill and practice, you can only make it so much fun. However, IXL makes a good effort through rewards, immediate feedback, and visually appealing tasks.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Practice, practice, practice builds confidence and accuracy, though repetition won't encourage critical thinking. Students do occasionally have some say in what to work on next, however.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Students get detailed support and tips when they get a problem wrong. The pre-K through second-grade content has microphone icons that read a problem out loud. Curriculum is aligned to CCSS, the NGSS, and other state standards.


Teacher Reviews

(See all 76 reviews) (76 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Kristen Z. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Marshall Elementary School
Wexford, PA
Exciting and Engaging Way to Bring the Core into the Classroom
I love this product as a teaching tool so much. I am contemplating buying it with my own money, which is how much I believe this tool would help students and meet their needs under the core state standards. This is something that can be done whole class, but the individual diagnostics would really help drive instruction and help teachers to understand student misconceptions.
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