ALEKS vs ACT: New Math Placement Test at YSU

By Alexis Timko

Youngstown State University will begin using ALEKS to replace the ACT developed Compass Placement Test.

ALEKS, or the Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces, is an adaptive web-based mathematics placement tool for students. YSU plans on implementing ALEKS for the spring 2017 semester.

Lance Williams, coordinator of the Mathematics Assistance Center, explained that the department of mathematics and statistics began looking for a new placement product because Compass was being discontinued.

“This prompted us to look for a product that would better correlate student placement and student success in college math courses,” Williams said. “After researching and reviewing several options, ALEKS stood out as the product that is best suited for our YSU students.”

Amy Gordon, director of the Testing Center, oversees the general placement process at YSU.

“We’re very excited to use ALEKS,” Gordon said. “What is really exciting about ALEKS is that students can log in from home, do a preliminary assessment, then, based on the initial assessment, be routed into ‘prep and learn’ modules, which allow them to work on math concepts that they are ready to learn and will help improve their overall math placement scores.”

University participation in ALEKS reduces the student fee to access the program from $99.95 to $25. Upon login to ALEKS, students can utilize the assessments, preparation areas and modules for up to six months with no further fees.

Gordon explained that students who spend time working in the preparation and learning modules will have a better opportunity to earn an accurate placement.

“Students are allowed to take the initial assessment at home, then will come to the Testing Center to take subsequent placement assessments,” Gordon said. “Only the proctored assessments will count as official placement scores. YSU is giving our students up to four proctored assessment opportunities to better their placement score.”

Williams recommends that students take the initial assessment at home or somewhere they feel comfortable because the results of the initial assessment are what creates the student-specific plan, complete with suggested learning models.

“ALEKS will continue to monitor the student’s progress and suggest topics that are appropriate based on the individual student’s path,” Williams said.

YSU is not the only Ohio campus adopting ALEKS. Schools such as Antioch College, Baldwin Wallace College, Columbus State Community College, Kent State University, Shawnee State University, the University of Toledo and Wright State University are using the program as well.

Only students who are not satisfied with their ACT or SAT math placements are required to take ALEKS.

“The mathematics department, the Mathematics Assistance Center and the YSU Testing Center are dedicated to helping our students be successful,” Gordon said. “Students who have questions or need help using ALEKS are welcome to call or email the Testing Center at 330-941-1343, [email] testing@ysu.edu or call the Mathematics Assistance Center at 330-941-1479.”

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