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IXL: Helpful Math Website or Major Anxiety Source?

by Valerie Torres

photo by Savannah Torres

IXL is a math website that is used throughout East Side for both homework and, at times, classwork. I personally find IXL very frustrating and others seem to agree with me. It shows you how “smart” you are with the SmartScore rated out of 0-100. You can answer as many questions as you want or need to get to a certain score, and it times how long you take to complete the questions. The average score teachers assign to reach is 80-85 and above. IXL is good for studying for tests or quizzes but it also causes stress and anxiety if it takes more than 30 minutes to reach 80 and above.

I have interviewed a few middle school students, and a teacher, and most of them share the same opinion. IXL is a good website but they get frustrated by it.

6th grader Pola Skawinski says, “I always felt like it was never ending. It just showed you your score and the number of questions you’ve answered. That never really made me feel motivated.”

Pola and I share an opinion of it being never ending, and so does Sonya Jarymovch, “Even though it seems short it doesn’t feel short. Although it feels like I could learn from it I feel like it doesn't give a good description when you get a question wrong and it's very confusing. You can’t really learn from your mistakes on IXL.”

8th grader Wylie thinks that IXL should stop being used altogether. “When you get a question wrong, you lose a lot of smartscore. If you get a question wrong, you should lose less points. They should stop using IXL. It’s an ineffective website to use. I would give it a 1/10.”

On the other hand, not everyone thinks IXL is a terrible website. 6th grade teacher Rob Eugene says, “IXL also gives feedback so students can see why they got the answer incorrect. It challenges students at the appropriate level especially once they’ve passed a score of 80 or 90 so they can keep pushing their thinking. It can be a great source of accomplishment to know that you’ve mastered an ‘easy’ skill after 20 questions or a more ‘challenging’ skill after 60 questions. As a teacher, it is a useful tool to see which students have mastered the skill and which have not and need extra support beyond IXL.”

To conclude, some students like IXL while others don’t, but based on my research the majority don’t like it because it causes anxiety and frustration. It seems to be more useful for teachers than students. Teachers could try and have study packets or sheets to use instead of IXl.

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