Acellus Academy/Power Homeschool Review– School at Home for Varied Needs

powerhomeschoolscreenshotI wanted to put this review on the blog (since we homeschool, it is part of our life journey…so periodically I’ll post reviews and other items) before my role on the Advisory Board for Power Homeschool becomes official. I didn’t want it at all to seem as if I had been paid to say what I want to share. We’ve been using the program for about a semester…I just realized I’d never written a review!

First, be aware that Acellus Academy and Power Homeschool are both secular in nature. So you will encounter some things like evolution in the courses. You will also, surprisingly enough, see biblical events and quotations alluded to from time to time; but it’s not part of any sort of religious slant. We plug in our own biblical world view in the form of Bible class, devotional reading, scripture copywork, and discussion.

I will say that I can’t offer much in the way of first-hand insight regarding Acellus Academy, since we’ve never used that option. It is an accredited program with certified teacher guidance, conducted online.  It is much the same as K12 Virtual Academy, although I’m not sure all the same stipulations are in place such as required vaccinations, adhering to a specific school calendar, etc.  For high school, two tracks are available…Standard, and Graduation with Honors. You can find out more here.

Also before I move on, for those wanting free education, Acellus Academy is being presented to various states across the US to be provided at no cost to the user via state approval and funding. It’s my understanding that our home state of Wyoming was the first to come on board for that option.  For those states not yet a part of that program, tuition per student is $249/month. If accreditation is important to you, then this is the option you’ll want to pursue.

Power Homeschool (recently renamed to distinguish it from the Academy) is available for the subscription cost of $25 per month (beginning August 1), per child. There are some savings if you enroll for a 12-month period at the price of $250 per child. Your membership can be paused at any time, and resumed at the click of a button with all your progress saved intact. In theory, the money you pay contributes toward covering the expenses of maintaining the site of course, and also serves to keep from requiring government funding for this portion of the company (which many subscribers felt strongly against), therefore preventing the public school system from dictating content and practice. This subscription provides you with your choice of 6 courses (core subjects plus electives–and they are currently asking for ideas for more courses to add!) per student. Included in the price are such parent-friendly tools as automatic grading (there are brief assessments after each “step” or lesson, plus tests), attendance records, printable progress reports and transcripts, and real time monitoring of your child’s progress. There’s a lot of bang for the buck.

Shows which class is being worked on

There are options in each grade level (from Pre-K through 12th) for Special Education classes. I’ve read testimonials of numerous parents experiencing great success with their children, dealing with everything from autism to dyslexia.  The AP courses which were previously available for the Homeschool option are now available only through the Academy.

The reason for this program’s success, apart from being extremely easy for parents to use, as well as very cost-effective, is how flexible the program is for nearly any homeschooling situation. You can choose a full load of classes, or just use the program for one if you wish. Another perk is that each subject has placement tests, and you can have flexibility in choosing which grade level each subject enrolled…so you may have your child enrolled in 5th grade Math or Science, but 6th grade Language Arts, to customize the content to your child’s current levels. You make your own schedule with Power Homeschool, and you decide how rigorous your calendar will be. Each “step” or video lesson (the classes are all in video format, taught by certified teachers–this aspect is important to some) is fairly brief, so if attention span is an issue, this is very helpful. I’ve personally started with two “steps” per day, per subject and then gradually increased the work load for our daughter.  Learning to take notes is a valuable skill and one that is vital to succeed well in any homeschool program, especially if a student plans to attend college.  We use LOTS of spiral notebooks and then the information is already there and has been reinforced when it comes time for tests and exams.

Speaking of assessments, you can opt out of these if you wish. For those unschoolers who want structure but are not keenly interested in GPA or regular evaluations, you can always opt for “tutor mode” for your class which enables you to skip lessons for content already covered/mastered as well as tests if preferred. The intuitive program will only include “steps” passed and the correlating assessment grades when averaging for GPA in tutor mode.  And you can indeed just use Power Homeschool for tutoring purposes, as has been the case in many public high school systems nationwide.  If it is important to you personally, or necessary legally, for you to have verification that an entire class has been completed with every jot and tittle checked off, you can print certificates once your student is finished with each course and that course will show as officially completed on the progress tab of the dashboard.  You can see your child’s progress at any time.

acellusscore

To enhance the Language Arts class (because I prefer some actual writing to be taking place in addition to what is done via screen time), I choose to supplement Power Homeschool with some additional spelling and grammar resources and printables via other online offerings like Schoolhouse Teachers, No Red Ink, Spelling City, and WordBuild.  I also periodically plug in some more interactive options for electives like art projects and music. I’ve used a few extras like Hoffman Academy for music and Everyday Easels for art. All of these items are free, with the exception of Schoolhouse Teachers (which you can try for only $5 for your first month here). These are just things I prefer to add for variety so that the entirety of our school day is not in one venue only. Power Homeschool can definitely be used as a stand-alone curriculum in its own right.

So, whether you want to tutor a hard subject, get an accredited (and possibly free) education, take a few courses to beef up your lesson plans, complete an entire grade level of documented curriculum, or choose classes to complete at your child’s pace and without the pressure of assessments, there is a “level of engagement” with Acellus Academy or Power Homeschool that is just right for you!

This program has helped our rising 7th grader to own her schooling, learn to self-educate, and thrive. Does it work? Here’s a Facebook post I made a few months in:

I smiled to myself the other day while driving to town with Katie. They were talking about moon phases on NPR, and how there had just been a “Waxing Gibbous” moon.

Katie: “Oh, that means we’ll have a full moon next.”
Me: “How did you know that??” (I didn’t know that!)

Apparently this was from her recent Acellus 6th grade science lesson. She’s learning something! She’s actually doing very well this semester, with a 3.52 GPA. Grateful to have her home when she has physically challenging days like today…she can still thrive in spite of it. 

Questions? Leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to help!