Ten years ago, IXL Learning CEO Paul Mishkin and his team set out to create a learning product that was motivating enough that students would want to use it—without being pushed by parents and teachers to do so. Today, more than 6 million students use IXL’s math, English language arts, science, social studies and Spanish products.
“We’ve worked hard to create the most motivating and compelling learning experience that we can,” said Mishkin. “The evidence is strong that students retain knowledge best when they are in charge of their own learning. So we ask questions like: how do we spark innate curiosity, enable ownership, support and challenge in equal measure, acknowledge progress and reward mastery over memorization? These questions excite us every single day here at IXL, and we design new features to empower students while also providing powerful insights to parents and teachers.”
To date, students have answered more than 35 billion questions on IXL. And, studies across 34,936 public and charter schools in 10 states have found IXL schools consistently outperform schools using other programs or methods, ranking as much as 16 percentile points higher on state assessments (in the case of Georgia).
IXL offers unique features that are unavailable in other products, including the depth and breadth of content that makes true personalization possible. Students can access IXL’s entire K-12 curriculum at any time—consisting of more than 7,000 MicroSkills that have been painstakingly scaffolded to pinpoint a student’s exact level of understanding and generate questions that are right for him or her. Questions are brought to life by real-world examples, engaging visuals and immediate feedback.
Also unique to IXL is the depth of performance and progress insights available to students, their parents and teachers. Released in 2017, the IXL Continuous Diagnostic provides much more than a one-time capture of student performance. Instead, IXL’s diagnostic continually works in the background, giving teachers (and students) insights that are always up to date, with timely and actionable steps they can take to grow from where they are. Students are rewarded and motivated by seeing the efforts of their practice reflected in recommendations made by IXL, and in their overall mastery of a subject.
“I’ve never seen 8th graders voluntarily immerse themselves with grammar the way they do on IXL,” said John Davenport, language arts and social studies teacher at Portola Valley Elementary School District in Portola Valley, California. “IXL by nature is very engaging. My students tell me they love the immediate feedback and are motivated by seeing their own progress and earning virtual awards as they master new skills. With workbooks and other activities, students don’t really care about what they are learning. But with IXL, they can focus in on exactly what they need and get personalized help if they are struggling. They’re no longer just students. They’re learners.”
IXL also approaches scoring differently in order to help students attain mastery, rather than a simple percentage score. Skills start with easy questions. If the student answers these questions correctly, they receive harder questions. If not, IXL provides detailed feedback and easier questions until they are ready to move forward. Recommendations for further practice also become available. Students are engaged in a fluid learning experience driven by their own levels of readiness. The only “learning path” to follow is the student’s. This provides teachers with maximum flexibility as well as control in the classroom.
“We agonize over new feature development at IXL. It’s very easy to just keep adding features; what’s harder is ensuring that the experience remains pure for the learner, with minimal distractions and maximum engagement,” said Jennifer Gu, Chief Operating Officer. “We actively resist following unproven trends and focus instead on perfecting our learning system, which consists of superior practice, actionable insights and a true measure of student knowledge—in essence, the formula for mastery. IXL can be plugged into any learning model, at home, or in the classroom. There are no boundaries or rules for how to use IXL. That matches our view of the future—there are no boundaries when it comes to which subjects or educational challenges we will tackle next as long as we can provide students with a clear path toward mastery.”
“There is nothing better than teaching a concept and having students ready and excited to prove to you and themselves that they understand it,” said Maurio Medley, a high school math coach at Oak Ridge High School in Orlando, Florida. “I have been using IXL for seven of the 10 years it has existed, and all I can say is, ‘What was I thinking for those other three?’”
IXL covers math, English language arts, science, social studies and Spanish. IXL is available online and as an app for iPad and Android. For more information and to subscribe to IXL, please visit www.ixl.com.