Acellus Academy (AA) is actually not a homeschooling curriculum at all. It’s a private online school that students can join at any time of the year. They can study the course at their own pace while still enjoying the homeschool environment. Acellus offers both Common Core-aligned and non-aligned courses. It is a secular curriculum that lets children study at their own pace. Also, this curriculum is accredited, unlike Power Homeschool, the homeschool curriculum version of Acellus.
In this article, we’ll talk about many things, including:
- What is Acellus Academy?’
- Acellus Academy vs Power Homeschool
- Acellus Courses on Offer
- Acellus Academy Cost vs Power Homeschool
- Acellus Placement Tests
- Acellus Scholarship Opportunities
- Is Acellus Common Core?
- What’s Different about AA (Compared to Other Online Schools)?
- What is Acellus Academy’s Religious Affiliation?
- Acellus Academy Accreditation
- Is Acellus Enough…Do I Need To Supplement It?
Let’s get started!
What is Acellus Academy?
Acellus Academy is an online school catering for Grades K to 12. Education is delivered by distance education and students learn online through videos and remote teachers.
According to AA, it is:
An online learning system that has been used to provide primary instruction to millions of students in thousands of schools throughout the United States…Acellus is the fastest growing learning system in America. The program is used by over one million students at over 2,000 schools in every U.S. state and around the world. [About Us]
As such, this program is growing in popularity, especially among the homeschooling community. Perhaps this is why the umbrella company of this business created a homeschooling version, Power Homeschool.
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 features that the Academy offers. But, because it’s not an online school, students can’t get homeschool accreditation.
Many homeschooling parents don’t think homeschooling accreditation is important 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 seem to be different programs run by the same organization. If you’re comparing Acellus vs Power Homeschool, you have to note that if you study with the Academy, you’ll actually be studying in an online school that’s accredited – and that’s the big difference.
If you’re concerned about homeschool accreditation, AA is the option for you.
However, 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 very important consideration for many parents!
With both programs, there are no contracts and your subscription can be cancelled at any time. 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:
Besides Power Homeschool, these are the programs that are looked at a lot when this program is considered. They are all online curriculum that can be used for homeschoolers from K-12th grade.
What Modes or Programs does Acellus Offer?
Acellus has three main modes or programs it offers 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 homeschools, that isn’t accredited and
- Acellus Tutoring -a program school students can use to supplement their schoolwork
It seems that the big differences have to do with price and course accreditation.
This article will be focusing on the online school, Acellus Academy, although we might overlap a little with the other modes as we compare them side-by-side.
Pros and Cons of Acellus Academy and Power Homeschool
After looking at about 15 Acellus curriculum reviews, I’ve come to a few conclusions about the common pros and cons of Acellus Academy and Power Homeschool.
As a side note, I usually do my research on the homeschool curriculum first, and then I look at reviews. Sometimes the excitement of the colorful website makes me hope the reviews will be good, but I don’t always find that. In this case, I was a little disappointed as I didn’t find as many positive reviews as I’d hoped. Still, there was a good smattering of very positive reviews and some negative ones.
Let’s take a look at them:
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
- a couple of parents complained the social studies component was dry and boring
- Power Homeschool is quite affordable
I can see the Academy would appeal to secular homeschooling families as well as families with children who have special needs.
Cons of Acellus Academy and Power Homeschool
Some of the disadvantages of Acellus Academy that parents seemed to like include:
- 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
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.
With Acellus Academy Students Can Study Different Grades for Each Subject
If you have students that are significantly stronger in one subject or significantly weaker in another, you can enrol them in different Grades for that subject.
That is your child could be doing Grade 4 English while they’re 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 just spend some time outside doing nature walks and so on.
The lessons are so short because AA was designed with the mindset that children of today have short attention spans.
The videos are also very short 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 have to learn to concentrate on what’s being said because they know they’ll be tested immediately.
Why you would study with Acellus Academy?
If you want the safety of home but you still want to study a traditional curriculum as delivered in many American schools, you might look to the Acellus Academy.
The Academy 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 really helped their children deal with areas they were academically weak in.
AA is a great option for students with special needs like autism, dyslexia, and giftings because it can allow them to study at their own pace without worrying that they’re going to fast or too slow for the class. They also don’t need to fill up their brain space by trying to figure out the school culture which can be quite hard to discern, especially for many children with autism or disabilities.
Acellus Courses on Offer
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
Acellus courses are split up by levels:
- elementary (Grade K-5)
- middle (Grade 6-8) and
- high school (9-12)
Students in different age brackets can gain access to specific electives. That is, 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 become available to them.
Power Homeschool vs Acellus Academy Cost: Let’s Talk Dollars and Cents
Acellus Academy costs $2,400 per year or about $200 a month. If this is too much, maybe you can consider a scholarship (see below) or look at their option of joining the Roger Billings Mentoring Program. 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 out there. There are no contracts and your subscription can be cancelled 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 that’s dictated by the state…which isn’t always appreciated by users. So, subscription fees pay for the course to be independent and stop the state dictating the content.
A subscription gets you access to six courses which comprise of core subjects plus electives.
Acellus Placement Tests
If you study with AA, you’ll find that each core subject has a placement test. That is, 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 moulds! This 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 in order 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 enrol her in the right grade for her understanding.
Can I get an Acellus Scholarship?
In some states, you can get a scholarship to study the Acellus curriculum. In many cases, a scholarship means the cost will be completely covered by the state.
However, it seems that not all states are offering scholarships for the Acellus curriculum. Indeed the scholarships page only listed 8 states that offer Acellus Academy scholarships!
Is Acellus Common Core?
Acellus is both Common Core and non-Common Core aligned.
That is, AA offers versions of their courses that are aligned to Common Core and versions that are not – they allow parents to decide which version their students will take. Once students are enrolled they can also adjust their courses based on parent’s preferences.
So, if you’re a parent that likes the Common Core philosophy, you can choose the aligned version.
However, if you’re a parent that can’t stand Common Core, you can choose the non-aligned version.
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 own learning. Because work is self-paced, AA wants children to have a focus on becoming self-directed learners, a skill they can take to college.
They have a particular 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 a lot of 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.
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 quite 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 monitoring of a child’s progress, so this is a pretty cool and unique feature of Acellus Academy.
What is Acellus Academy’s Religious Affiliation?
Whereas many online schools are affiliated with Christian institutions or claim to have a Christian bent, Acellus Academy doesn’t seem to have this bent.
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 and so on.
Because Acellus Academy is a secular curriculum, you’ll find things like evolution being promoted (if you don’t like this, go with Abeka or Alpha Omega Publishing’s Lifepac or Switched-on-Schoolhouse).
Although many people think the secular people behind a curricula don’t have an agenda, they would be wrong. Taking the view that there is no God is a position of faith in itself. That is, it takes faith to believe that this world evolved out of soup, as opposed to being created by an Intelligent Being. Many people even think it takes more faith to be an atheist (hence the book, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be An Athiest.)
Since this is a Christian blog, it’s useful to make the point that if you too are a Christian, you might be doing damage control if you want to use a secular religious text while holding a Christian worldview. And as such, I would recommend seeking another curriculum that is aligned with the Christian faith.
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 postsecondary institutions.
Besides Acellus Academy, the WASC has accredited thousands of schools which you can find in their directory at this link.
Using Acellus if You’re Part-Time Homeschooling
Some parents don’t want to send their children to school full-time – but then they don’t want to homeschool full-time either. As such, Acellus Academy is a great option if you want to do part-time homeschooling.
This is handy as parents can choose Common Core-aligned courses (what public schools use) which will not clash with what is being taught.
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 find they need to supplement this online course with Christian literature, Bible study and other godly subjects as the Acellus curriculum is not aligned with Christian beliefs.
Acellus reviews also mentioned that because this course is an online curriculum, they need to supplement it with handwriting courses.
Other Online Schools like Acellus Academy
Some alternatives to Acellus Academy are:
- BJU – a Biblical worldview shaping home education program offering video lessons and accreditation. I’ve done a review of BJU here and I was very 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.
- Switched-on-Schoolhouse – another accredited Christian homeschooling curriculum that’s essentially an online school. SOS 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 amounts of 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 very good fit for their needs.