Hopkinsville Community College: IXL & Social Studies

 If we target specific SS skills and provide practice on those skills via IXL, will we see a 5 point increase (or passing score) on students’ GED® SS scores?

Product Overview

Some of our students were struggling with the GED® Social Studies (SS) Ready and official GED® test, so we decided to integrate IXL SS skills practice into our instruction to see if that would have an impact on their GED SS GED® Ready and official GED®  test scores. Next, we developed the following research question:  If we target specific SS skills and provide practice on those skills via IXL, will we see a 5 point increase (or passing score) on students’ GED® SS scores?


To identify the skills to target, we analyzed GED® Score Reports for students who did and did not pass the GED® SS test. We used the following spreadsheet to gather and tally missed items to determine the types of items most missed by our students: GED® Social Studies Analysis Example. Here is a blank template for any subject: GED Score Report Analysis TemplateLater, we expanded our targeted approach to include the following strategies.

Mastery Moments

This PLC project was a big step for our team with everyone collaborating to try out a new technology-based resource for targeted skills practice. We found that badges in IXL were motivational to students when they completed their IXL goals. We also appreciated IXL’s analytics and reporting feature that provided real-time feedback on student progress.


During this project and implementation of targeted approaches to Social Studies instruction, we had many opportunities to celebrate student successes with 7 of 10 students passing the official GED® SS test and 11 of 14 students passing the GED® Ready SS test.

Messy Moments

At the beginning of Sprint 2, we decided to expand our targeted approach to include other instructional materials for different groups of students as outlined in the table above. While this gave us the opportunity to look at the effectiveness of other

targeted approaches, the transition midway through our project did make things a bit “messy” as it made it more complicated for instructors to determine who does what based on their initial GED® SS Ready scores. Other “messy” moments along the way:

  1. Students were getting into areas on IXL that were not teacher recommended goals. IXL is an open-access platform that gives students access to all skills available through the license. (i.e. A student at an 8th grade level in IXL has access to K-8 content.) Students spent a lot of time working on SS skills that had not been assigned by their instructor and were not aligned with the competencies assessed by the GED®.
  2. Speaking of skills aligned with the GED® competencies … TABE skill plans are available in IXL and are quite comprehensive. However, there are no GED®-aligned skill plans. A lot of instructor time was required to locate and group the Social Studies skills we wanted to target in IXL. Some content we needed, such as practice with Propaganda, was not available in IXL.
  3. Copies of maps on the Steck-Vaughn materials were not in color and were not easy to read for students. To make these an effective instructional resource, we needed to use the versions with color. 
  4. Instructors discovered that they needed to supplement the Steck-Vaughn materials with vocabulary and other hard copy materials.


For this project, we evaluated our strategy by tracking the students’ passing their GED® Ready and official GED® tests and/or increasing their scores by five points. We used the Social Studies Test Study Tracking Sheet to collect this information. Preliminary outcomes are shared in the table below.


We also tracked our GED® Test Taker Performance  through the course of our PLC work to share the following:


Social Studies GED® Test Taker Performance

  • 9/20/21:  69% Passed / 31% Below Passing
  • 11/15/21: 77% Passed / 23 % Below Passing
  • 2/4/22:  83% Passed / 17% Below Passing


We do feel the targeted approaches to SS instruction had an impact on student performance based on our preliminary outcomes. We plan to continue implementing targeted SS instruction and tracking student outcomes to see if this holds over a longer period of time.

Moving Forward

First, we will continue to collect data with IXL and the other instructional approaches to evaluate their effectiveness.  


One significant challenge during our FY22 PLC work came from having limited trial access to the Social Studies content. When the trial ended, we lost access to the Social Studies skill sets we created. We now have access to all four GED® subjects, but it will take time to rebuild what we lost for Social Studies. 

On a more positive note, our access to the Math content was not interrupted so we’ve been able to create targeted skill sets for math practice that aligns directly with what we’re teaching in class. Our skill sets are added to the KYAE master document of IXL skill sets: IXL Classes and Spreadsheet Tracking. With our growing knowledge and experience with IXL, we’ll be able to utilize this tool more for a blended, targeted instructional approach going forward.