Common Sense Review
Updated April 2016


Immediate feedback and breadth a major plus, despite emphasis on drills
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Common Sense Rating 4
  • Choose from Common Core content, social studies, or science.
  • ELA concepts include grammar and vocabulary.
  • Written explanations are provided when students answer incorrectly.
  • The Trouble Spots report helps teachers target their instruction.
  • Other detailed reports are available through IXL Analytics.
Tool helps students develop confidence and clearly track progress.
Drilling limits opportunities for kids to apply skills in real-world ways.
Bottom Line
Students can improve targeted skills with tons of practice modules and visually appealing tasks.
Jason Shiroff
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

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? 3

Practice, practice, practice builds confidence and accuracy, though repetition won't encourage critical thinking.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

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

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Class and individual reports with item analysis, usage, and trouble spots 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.

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 5. Older students may need some guidance as to which skills they should practice, especially in math. Teachers can suggest skills for classes to practice, but there's no way for teachers to assign specific students or groups of students certain tasks through the dashboard.

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What's It Like?

IXL is a website and Chrome app with thousands of math, language, social studies, and science modules that meet nearly all the Common Core State Standards and some of the Next Generation Science Standards (grades 2–5). You'll find pre-K games covering the fundamentals through subject-specific high school lessons. A few examples include learning activities on geometry, how to graph equations, and the Pythagorean theorem.

In "Recipes with Fractions," students compare fractions using real recipes, classify a system of equations, graph two equations by dragging points, and then classify them in a multiple-choice question. Language arts practice focuses on grammar and vocabulary skills. 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 medal and a square on their game board, encouraging them to master other skills to earn virtual prizes.

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Is It Good For Learning?

The targeted activities -- 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 is its major drawback. However, it gives students the tools they need to improve in many subjects and build confidence across the board.

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