Are you ready for a curriculum that’s as flexible as your kid’s yoga instructor? Meet Acellus Academy – the online school that’s not quite homeschooling, but not quite traditional education either. Think of it as a homeschool hybrid, where your child can learn at their own pace, on their own schedule, all while enjoying the comforts of home. Acellus offers a non-aligned, secular curriculum that’s both accredited and a little rebellious – kind of like your teenage daughter’s new haircut. So, if you’re looking for a curriculum that’s as cool as it is effective, let’s dive into our review of Acellus Academy!
In this article, we’ll talk about many things, including:
I hope you enjoy reading this blog post. If you want to do my course on how to homeschool, click here.
- What is Acellus Academy?’
- Acellus Academy vs. Power Homeschool
- Courses on Offer
- Acellus Academy Cost vs. Power Homeschool
- Placement Tests
- Scholarship Opportunities
- Is Acellus Common Core?
- What’s Different about AA (Compared to Other Online Schools)?
- What is Their Religious Affiliation?
- Is This Curriculum Enough? Do I Need To Supplement It?
- How long does work take each day?
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But, now, let’s have a closer look at Acellus.
There are affiliate links in this post (although not Acellus or Power homeschool links).
What is Acellus Academy?
What is Acellus Academy, you ask?
It’s like a virtual school that travels at the speed of light (or close to it).
From kindergarten to 12th grade, Acellus delivers education straight to your screen via distance learning – no hall passes required.
With video lessons and remote teachers, your child can learn on their own schedule and in the comfort of their own home (or fort, or treehouse, or wherever they like to study).
And they’re not alone – over a million students in 2,000 schools worldwide use Acellus, making it the fastest-growing learning system in America. So whether you’re a homeschooling pro or just starting out, Acellus Academy is a force to be reckoned with. It’s so popular, in fact, that its parent company created Power Homeschool – the homeschooling version of Acellus.
Wait, What is Power Homeschool?
Power Homeschool is the non-accredited version of Acellus Academy. Power Homeschool still uses Intelligent Interaction and has many of the Academy’s features. But, because it’s not an online school, students can’t get homeschool accreditation.
Many homeschooling parents don’t think homeschooling accreditation is essential, though – more on this further down the page.
Acellus Academy vs. Power Homeschool: What’s the Difference?
Sometimes AA is used interchangeably with Power Homeschool. However, they are different programs run by the same organization.
Suppose you’re comparing Acellus vs. Power Homeschool. In that case, you have to note that if you study with the Academy, you’ll be studying in an accredited online school – and that’s a big difference.
If you’re concerned about homeschool accreditation, AA is the option for you.
If you’re not worried about accreditation, Power Homeschool might be better for your homeschool (see the pros and cons of accreditation here).
Another thing to note when looking at Acellus vs. Power Homeschool is that Power Homeschool is a tenth of the price of the Academy.
This will be a significant consideration for many parents!
With both programs, there are no contracts, and your subscription can be canceled at any time. In addition, AA will still store the work you’ve done on file, even if you don’t still have a subscription with them.
If you’re interested in this program, you should consider looking into:
- Acellus vs. Khan Academy
- Acellus vs. FunCation Academy
- Acellus vs. Time4Learning
Besides Power Homeschool, these programs are looked at a lot when considered. Khan Academy, FunCation Academy, and Time4Learning are all online homeschool curriculum packages that can be used for homeschoolers from K-12th grade.
What Modes or Programs Does Acellus Offer?
Acellus has three main modes or programs for students in different situations. Essentially, this company has slightly different programs that serve up similar material. Specifically, the three modes are:
- Acellus Academy -an online school.
- Power Homeschool -a curriculum for homeschool that isn’t accredited and
- Tutoring Mode – a program school students can use to supplement their schoolwork
It seems that the significant differences have to do with price and course accreditation.
This article will focus on the online school, Acellus Academy, although we might overlap a little with the other modes as we compare them side-by-side.
What Homeschool Method Does Acellus Academy Follow?
Acellus Academy is an online school, complete with accreditation and so on.
This means it follows the traditional homeschooling method.
The traditional homeschooling method is a style of education that involves following a structured curriculum with workbooks and structured lessons. The method is also called the school-at-home method as it tries to replicate school’s method of teaching inside the home.
Those who use the traditional homeschooling method may also use various teaching methods, such as lectures, discussions, and hands-on activities, to ensure children receive a well-rounded education.
In this case, a student would be doing their work online as a child would in an online school.
Pros and Cons of Acellus Academy and Power Homeschool
I scoured through about 15 Acellus curriculum reviews and discovered a few things about the common pros and cons of Acellus Academy and Power Homeschool.
As a disclaimer, I usually do my homework on homeschool curriculum before diving into reviews. But sometimes, the allure of a flashy website can get the best of me and I end up disappointed.
In this case, my hopes weren’t entirely met with the reviews I found, but hey, there were still some raving reviews and a few naysayers in the mix.
So let’s dive in and see what they had to say!
Pros of Acellus Academy and Power Homeschool
Some of the benefits of Acellus Academy that parents seemed to like include:
- a decent selection of elective classes
- ability to choose different class grades for different subjects
- no complaints of busywork – a rarity in traditional homeschooling curricula!
- great for use with easily distracted children as this program retains their attention well
- great for students with ADHD, autism, and other special needs
- children can work at their own pace
- Power Homeschool is quite affordable.
I can see the Academy would appeal to families who want a secular homeschool curriculum or a curriculum for special needs or autism.
Cons of Acellus Academy and Power Homeschool
Some of the disadvantages of Acellus Academy that parents seemed to like include the following:
- not as many language electives as some other homeschooling curricula
- poor selection of worksheets to download if parents want to work with their children offline
- the Academy is quite expensive
- a couple of parents complained the social studies component was dry and boring
Can I Watch Samples of Acellus Homeschool Videos?
There are many samples of Acellus Homeschool videos available on their samples page. Here they have samples for:
You can see the videos appear to be pretty fun and engaging.
Is this course self-paced?
Yes! It is all self-paced so that students can finish work in their own time.
I love self-paced homeschool curriculum. They really let children dig into a subject for as long as it interests them. This is a great way to increase learning and develop a love of learning, something I talk about a lot in the Homeschool Parenting Program.
With Acellus Academy, Students Can Study Different Grades for Each Subject
If you have significantly stronger students in one subject or significantly weaker in another, you can enroll them in different Grades for that subject.
For example, your child could be doing Grade 4 English while doing Grade 7 Math.
How Quickly Can I Finish Lessons?
One of the Acellus Academy review mothers testified that they could finish their lessons in 45 minutes to an hour each day. She said her family loved this because it gave them time to do hands-on projects or spend some time outside doing nature walks and so on.
The lessons are short because AA was designed to show that today’s children have short attention spans.
The videos are also concise, so the lessons are not overwhelming. Typically videos teach only one concept or theory, and then students are immediately tested on what they understood in the video.
As such, students must learn to concentrate on what’s being said because they know they’ll be tested immediately.
Why would you study with Acellus Academy?
If you want to have your children at home with you but you still want them to study a traditional curriculum as delivered in many American schools, you might look to the Acellus Academy.
The Academy also gives a few reasons why you might study with them:
- medical necessities
- students have more of an interest in more rigorous studies than schools provide (i.e., gifted students)
- safety from bullying
- a more flexible environment in which to learn and
- a second chance for students that have dropped out of school or been expelled.
A few Acellus Academy reviewers said their children loved studying with AA as it helped their children deal with areas they were academically weak in.
AA is an excellent option for students with special needs like autism, dyslexia, and giftingsbecause it can allow them to study at their own pace without worrying that they’re going too fast or too slow for the class.
They also don’t need to fill up their brain space by figuring out the school culture, which can be difficult to discern, especially for many children with autism or disabilities.
AA has a plethora of courses on offer. The courses encompass the following base subjects:
- Language Arts
- Social Studies
- Fine Arts
- Foreign Languages
- Personal Finance
- STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) and
- Career and Technical Education
Levels split up Acellus courses:
- elementary (Grade K-5)
- middle (Grade 6-8) and
- high school (9-12)
Students in different age brackets can gain access to specific electives. A set of electives might only be available for the middle school grade. When children graduate to the high school bracket, a new set of age-appropriate electives becomes available.
Power Homeschool vs. Acellus Academy Cost: Let’s Talk Dollars and Cents
Acellus Academy costs $2,500 per year or about $230 a month. If this is too much, maybe you can consider a scholarship (see below) or consider their option of joining the Roger Billings Mentoring Program, which helps increase academic marks.
You can get more information about the cost of Acellus Academy and scholarships on this page.
As I mentioned before, Power Homeschool is a tenth of the price of Acellus Academy.
The cost of Power Homeschool for one year is only $250. That’s a very cheap option compared to the other homeschooling curricula. There are no contracts, and your subscription can be canceled at any time.
Here is a comparison chart of the two. It’s a screenshot from their website as of the 11th of February 2019.
If Acellus is a Not-for-Profit Company, Why Do They Cost So Much?
Acellus is a not-for-profit company, and the fees you pay go back into the company and stop it from requiring state funding.
If education providers have state funding, they can sometimes be required to provide content dictated by the state, which users don’t appreciate. So, subscription fees pay for the course to be independent and stop the state from dictating the content.
Acellus Placement Tests – How Do They Work?
If you study with AA, you’ll find that each core subject has a placement test.
For example, there are placement tests for Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts/Reading.
This is such a win for students that don’t fit grade molds! It means you can choose the grade your child should be studying for every subject!
This is what their website says about placement exams:
When enrolled, students are given an exam in each of these areas, which begins at a given grade level, moves up from that point, evaluating the students’ academic skill level, and automatically places them in the course they need to move forward. [Source]
One of the Acellus Academy reviews said the placement test they used placed their child in the wrong area for maths. However, that parent said it was easy to enroll her in the correct grade for her understanding.
Can I Get a Scholarship?
You can get a scholarship to study the Acellus curriculum in some states.
A scholarship means the state will completely cover the cost in many cases.
However, not all states are offering scholarships for the Acellus curriculum. Indeed the scholarships page only listed eight states that provide Acellus Academy scholarships.
Is Acellus Common Core?
Acellus used to offer both Common Core and non-Common Core aligned.
However, now they are offering only non-Common Core-aligned material.
What’s Different about Acellus Academy (Compared to Other Online Schools)?
Acellus Academy seems to pride itself on being an institution that allows children to pace their learning.
Because work is self-paced, AA wants children to focus on becoming self-directed learners, a skill they can take to college.
They focus on delivering great science and math courses to allow students to expand their access to career and college opportunities.
AA also has online events like:
- mentoring forums – where students can watch motivational videos that make them want to learn more and
- Science projects – where you can submit your science project and participate in a forum where other online students have submitted their projects online also.
Also, unlike many other programs, Acellus focuses on getting to the bottom of what a student doesn’t understand. Their program is designed to teach students their weak areas so students reach the end of the program with fewer gaps in their knowledge. This is also why AA can be used for tutoring.
Intelligent Interaction Mode
All Acellus programs use Intelligent Interaction, which allows student weaknesses to be targeted and worked on for the better. This is what the Tutoring Mode said about Intelligent Interaction, which all the modes use:
Acellus is a computer-based learning system that has changed online education as we know it today. AA is the only online learning system that utilizes I2 (Intelligent Interaction), which technology enables it to cater the educational content to the individual skill set of each student through customized, personal instruction.
Because of the nifty Intelligent Interaction feature, this online program is unique among online curricula!
Extra Features in Acellus Academy
Like Abeka and SOS, Acellus Academy offers great parent tools like automatic grading, transcripts, attendance records, and real-time monitoring of your child’s progress.
I haven’t seen other homeschooling curricula providers offer real-time tracking of a child’s progress, so this is a pretty cool and unique feature of Acellus Academy.
Whereas many online schools are affiliated with Christian institutions or claim to have a Christian worldview, Acellus Academy doesn’t seem to have this worldview.
I couldn’t find any information about their religious affiliation on their website (or when I emailed them), so I concluded they come at education from a secular perspective.
Other homeschooling blogs also came to this conclusion. Indeed, on one website, it’s listed AA as a suitable choice for secular homeschooling families.
Some of the Acellus Academy reviews by Christian homeschooling parents said they had to supplement their course with Bible, prayer, hymn study, etc.
Because Acellus Academy is a secular curriculum, you’ll find things like evolution being promoted (if you don’t like this, go with BJU Press, Abeka, or Alpha Omega Publishing’s Lifepac or Monarch).
Acellus Academy Accreditation
Acellus Academy is accredited by the WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges), a regional accreditation agency.
The WASC accredits K-12 schools as well as non-degree granting post-secondary institutions.
Besides Acellus Academy, the WASC has accredited thousands of schools which you can find in their directory at this link.
I’m Part-Time Homeschooling…Will it Work?
Some parents don’t want to send their children to school full-time, but they don’t want to homeschool full-time.
As such, Acellus Academy is an excellent option if you’re doing part-time homeschooling.
Some homeschooling parents might want their children home full-time, but they might not want to take on a full workload. This online school also allows this option, and students can happily work part-time if they choose.
Is Acellus Enough? Do I Need To Supplement Acellus?
Many Christian parents need to supplement this online course with Christian literature and Bible study as the Acellus curriculum is not aligned with Christian beliefs.
Acellus reviews also mentioned that because this course is an online curriculum, they must also supplement with handwriting courses.
How Long Does Work Take Each Day?
On average, students spend 2-4 hours daily doing their schooling.
Acellus recommends a minimum of 2 hours 5 days per week.
Students are advanced through grade levels based on their concept mastery rather than time spent on the subject.
Is it Self-Paced?
The courses are self-paced, so students can move through the course material at their own pace, depending on how quickly they pick up concepts.
However, they have a set amount of work to complete before a course is finished.
Once a course is complete, the student can move into the next grade level in that subject area.
Other Online Schools like Acellus Academy
Some alternatives to Acellus Academy are:
- BJU – a Biblical worldview-shaping home education program that offers video lessons and accreditation. I’ve reviewed BJU Press here, and I was impressed.
- Abeka Academy – a Christian homeschooling curriculum. This course has online videos but a lot of paper-based textbooks. It’s also accredited as it’s technically another online school.
- Monarch – another accredited Christian homeschooling curriculum that’s essentially an online school. Monarch is probably closer to AA in that the entire curriculum is done online. The difference is that it’s from a Christian worldview. Currently, it only offers Grade 3 to 12.
Acellus Academy is one of the best secular online school curricula available today. AA also has the added features of Intelligent Interaction, which focuses on student’s weaknesses and targets these so students can improve their knowledge in these areas. The Academy also offers the option of accreditation, so if you’re a homeschool parent who wants their homeschool to be accredited, choose this curriculum over Power Homeschool. Many students seem to have tremendous fun with this curriculum, and it doesn’t seem to bore them like some other programs. As such, secular homeschooling parents will find this curriculum a perfect fit for their needs.
Thank you so much for this informative article! It has been quite useful in choosing high school classes. I was on the fence about acellus academy and was quite confused.
Not sure if things have changed since this was written, but…going on a month now, we absolutely love both PHS and the Academy. They are the same / identical platforms; same curriculums/classes merely differentiated by accredidation and teachers for Academy vs Parent Taught / managed on PHS.
COST: Acellus is VERY CHEAP for an accredited school. ANY child qualifies for the Roger Billings Scholarship Program which reduces the cost from $2400 per year to $699 per year (all 12 months included).
The only qualification is that the student view and participate in a weekly Live broadcast and submit a response with observations, comments, questions. They also recommend participating in the science fair (remote, don’t have to travel) but that is not required.
This makes it very inexpensive, just $79 per month on payment plan and $49 per month during summer if desired; or you can ‘pause’ during summer / vacation. Or you can pay the annual up front for even more savings…$79 per month during normal school months and $49 during summer (if not paused).
The curriculum is as easy or challenging as you desire. It usually won’t take anywhere near as long as conventional school to complete the day…but that is due to its efficient means.
DIAGNOSTICS: Short of going to Sylvan Learning Center or other very expensive educational tutoring / services, I was not successful in finding any free or inexpensive continual gap / comprehension diagnostic programs.
Acellus calls it Prism Diagnostics: Based upon an initial class pre-test (not graded) and continual diagnostics of not only the grade results, but actually what they got wrong; why they got it wrong; and providing gap reinforcement instruction, lessons and supplemental review assignments to assure they understand and master the concept.
MY SON: He was a freshman in Algebra 1 in public HS. He did well on his exams and was generally good in math. HOWEVER, once we put him into Acellus, it immediately determined he was weak / had gaps in his understanding of how to properly add / subtract and calculate division equations. So rather than going right into the Algebra, they system took the route of providing reinforcment lessons for those areas until he mastered it, then moved forward until he was adept at the precursor requisites for success in Algebra. I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW that he was weak there; unfortunately he had stumbled through that with the aid calculators (I hate calculator use prior to Trig) and just averaging his grades up.
He now is running a 4.0 GPA and is getting the gaps filled and he now is fully confident and moves quickly through the material.
I have 2 special needs (another son and nephew) who us PHS with some of the remedial and SE courses and are making great progress that they have NEVER achieved before.
Simply put, and I’m merely a parent of students, after years this is the single greatest educational coup for my younger sons, nephew and family.
That’s great to know. I’ve often thought that if my son needs a little extra help with a concept, I’d love to go with Acellus Tutoring and use their prism diagnostics to fill the gap.
I also didn’t know about most kids qualifying for the scholarship!
Thanks for the info.
Thank you so much for this thorough review! This is some of the best information that I have gotten about Acellus Academy.
Im thinking of doing power homeschool for middle school and acellus for high school? Would you know if I have to do all 4 years or just the lady year for accreditation?
Hi Monica, I don’t know sorry. Best to contact Acellus for that. I would guess that once your child does the last year, that accreditation would be absolutely fine (so just the lady year). Having said that you don’t need homeschooling accreditation to enter college. Read this for more info on this.
I’m thinking about using PH through 8th and then the Academy once my kids start high school due to the accreditation. Other than the accreditation are there any other benefits to using the Academy over using PH?
Pardon my ignorance, but what is PH? Do you mean public school or private (non-accredited) curricula?
I’m not sure of the above, but I know accreditation isn’t an issue if your kids want to do tertiary ed after homeschooling. People think it is, but it is SUCH a small issue (if not a non-issue). But, I explain it in this article about ‘homeschooling accreditation’ thoroughly.
We just started with Power Homeschool. I’ve been wondering what the difference is. Imp not concerned with accreditation. But, will Power Homeschool recognize his weaknesses and adjust, or is that only offered by the Academy?
Best to ask power homeschool about that, but I think power is just the unaccredited version of acellus.
Hello, I am thinking about Power Homeschool for my kids next year, and am wondering if you think it covers a sufficient amount of information since the videos are short and are only followed by a few practice questions. Does it cover as much as a public school or other curricula? Do you think it’s good for children who are slightly advanced in subjects like math and science? I am thinking about teaching textbooks for math, would you have any ideas about how the two compare or which is better in your opinion? Thank you so much for any information you can provide!
I’m afraid I don’t know the curricula in that much detail. I’ve looked at power homeschool a little and it seems like it is the unaccredited version of Accellus. Acellus is basically a public school curriculum. This means that I think it would compare with a public school curriculum.
I think power homeschool uses special technology to help gifted kids advance. This mean sit should be better if you want more advanced subjects. Make sure you ask Power homeschool about that though!
I haven’t reviewed Teaching Textbooks as I got really frustrated with their technology. But, this could have been teething issues as they swapped over from the old to the new platform. After spending an hour troubleshooting I was sick of it. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not good (perhaps it only means I’m impatient, haha).
Teaching Texbooks actually gets a lot of positive reviews which you can check out on the Homeschool Mom .com. Maybe you can compare the reviews on this platforms for both curricula.
And then if you’re looking for a homeschool curriculum that is advanced, there is also Moving Beyond the Page which is specifically designed for gifted children. All these options are secular options though which is something to think about, depending on your spiritual convictions.
Hope that helps!
To do the AA does a parent need a diploma like they do for homeschooling on their own? I use a virtual free public school program now (I’m just a learning coach, no diploma needed) & have for 6 years but my son is falling behind due to them going too fast. He’s autistic & can no longer keep up. Work can’t be late, deadlines everyday. 6hr days. I’m needing a program that will help him not hurt him.
The Academy is actually an online school, so I don’t think you need a diploma. It’s essentially like you’re going to accredited school in your lounge room.
I think this would help a child with autism more than a generic curriculum, but might be best to direct your questions to the curriculum providers.
Thank you, Rebecca. Your article has been so very helpful!
Thank you so much for all the great info on AA i have been trying to compare programs for days and after reading this u have made my decision clear and i can move forward with my daughters education! Thank you again for taking the time to do this research and give honest and not by bias information about this. I am truly grateful you are amazing!
How lovely. People like you make blogging worth it 🙂
Hi Bec, thank you for writing such a detailed thorough review of Acellus Academy. I have been “following” AA for almost a year now. It seems like AA is the perfect fit for our military family. We travel overseas and both of my children have special needs. But it scares me every time when I read extremely negative reviews about AA. I attached the highlight of the recent “tutor page remove” of AA that seems angered hundreds of parents.
Please, I would love to hear your thoughts about it:
As of 4/7/23, PowerHouse removed the tutor mode feature from their app/website. This was a mode many homeschool families used to be able to adapt the curriculum to their child’s needs. For some, they used this to ensure their child couldn’t move on until they met a higher grade requirement than PH requires. For others, they used tutor mode so their special needs child had plenty review opportunities, more practice, and that they could retake the tests as much as needed for mastery. Teaching mode, the only currently available mode, only allow a few attempts to retake.
This transition was made without any notification. To this day, no official email or communication was sent out, except by posts inside of their FB group. Not everyone has access to social media, and they will not be aware of the changes until they log into their account.
Due to PH stating that parents that didn’t use every step of the subjects were cheating, it is not homeschool friendly. Parents are no longer allow to have their children skip items their children have already mastered, jump in midyear if they’re switching from something else, or meet the needs of their special needs children.
PH did setup a secondary website called 2tor.online for parents to pay an additional cost for “tutor mode.” That cost is $5 per subject, per month. It is not setup as the previous tutor mode, though, as it doesn’t provide anything other than videos. For students to be able to use it, they’d still need to use and pay for PH or use another curriculum. It would be a good fit for those that do have other curriculums and need something to help teach their children difficult subjects, though.