IXL Gives Students a Difficult Time with Homework

By Adam Bihi and Curran Gilster, News & Opinion Editor and Online Editor

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IXL: Those words are one thing that students at Falls Church do not want to hear uttered. IXL has become synonymous with pain and suffering for a majority of the student body. Hours of blood, sweat, and tears go into these seemingly worthless activities that give us no help whatsoever.
IXL, which stands for I eXceL, is an educational website that was founded in 1998 as a way to sharpen students’ focuses on proficiency in languages such as English and Math. These subjects range from Pre-K, all the way up to 12th grade. Schools have adopted this method of learning over the years because of the promise it shows to help students. Normally, IXL would cost around $73 a year for individual students, but since FCHS has a subscription, IXL is completely free for us to use.
There has to be a better way to get the necessary practice needed for that 100. Let’s look at some other methods sometimes used that may have a better way of working instead of IXL.
We could go old school and start doing worksheets. Personally we like this method better because we know beforehand how many problems we have to solve. In other words, we know what we’re getting into before we start, unlike IXL.
Or we could go into the future and use websites like edpuzzle. These websites have videos on all kinds of subjects that can help us when we are stranded at home with no teacher in sight. But from what we have noticed, students need it right in front of their faces to really understand the concept. Since we benefit most with guided instruction, why do teachers continue to pile up work on a website that does the exact opposite? IXL offers some help when we get a problem wrong but it’s very vague and does not offer the information needed.
The biggest issue students have with IXL is how they are barely rewarded for getting an answer right, but harshly punished for getting an answer wrong. This could mean a student who is at a 97 will see their score will drop to the mid 80s, if they get one question wrong. This gives a lot of stress to students who just want to get their work done without being punished for it.
So with all the information given here, why do teachers still give IXL? Mr. Fahringer (English), an English teacher here at Falls Church who holds his students to a higher standard and requires them to score 90’s and 100’s on their IXL’s, said this: “I think IXL is a good supplement to instruction since it gives students the opportunity to practice all skills around, but it also has limitations in the sense that students can sometimes guess their way to a mastery score, and the way it’s set up, students are a little too focused on their score. I think it’s a valuable resource, but it shouldn’t take the place of instruction, I use it after I introduce a concept.”
To give a counterpoint, Dylan Major (10) said, “I think I speak for a majority of the student body when I say this, IXL is a good resource in theory but in execution it is just not good for us students. The explanations rarely ever make sense and it turns learning into a competition.”
Sometimes IXL is used as a replacement for in-class instruction. It is used to introduce a concept just adding to the confusion and frustration of students. Students then never really get a grasp on a concept, setting them up for failure from the beginning. This of course can’t be blamed on the program, but the way it is used instead. IXL is not great from the start, so with the way it is implemented by some teachers, the program causes extreme anger and frustration throughout the student body.
There is also the issue of the way teachers grade IXL work. Students are given IXL’s in masses and forced to complete them or else a huge grade drop will occur. IXL’s are weighted very heavily in the gradebook.
Derman Whitney (9) said, “IXL is just a resource that does not help, it causes lots of mad students and pain.” When asked why he thinks teachers still use it he said, “I really don’t know. It still kind of confuses me on why the teachers still use it.”

Nebil Ahmed (10) struggles with IXL homework.
(Photo by Curran Gilster)

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IXL Gives Students a Difficult Time with Homework