- Reviewed on Tuesday, January 15, 2013
- Grades Used: high school
- Dates used: 1994-1997
I used ACE as a student at a Christian high school and home school student in the nineties. I have to be honest and say that when I decided to home school my own kids I knew that I absolutely would NOT use ACE, not for anything.
I don't know if home schooling with it would be different than using it in a school setting, but having used it for four years (I did two years in one year...it's that easy). And when I went to college after high school, I was so unprepared for so many subjects, it was scary. For example, even though I had passed ACE algebra with an A, I had to take basic algebra twice in college to pass (my college required higher level math coming in). I had learned very little US and world history and what I had learned was so extremely limited that it wasn't much help. I learned no church history, no foreign language, had no experience writing papers which college work requires almost exclusively and did not know how to properly study. ACE tests are made up of questions (the exact same questions, at least in math, as I recall) that one has already done in the lessons that it's very easy to *learn* what the correct answer looks like by doing your own grading that it's easy to think you've learned a concept when really you've only learned how to pass a test. Thankfully I started at a junior college, so I was able to test the waters so-to-speak and get myself ready for university study.
Another tool ACE relies heavily on is rote memorization. For some subjects, this is helpful. I actually think their etymology course is really good and memorization works well in that context. However, so much emphasis is put on memorization and not on real thinking or reasoning that the memorization part becomes the focus and test of success, at least in my experience. I could quote all the various rules, ideas, and even scripture but I had very little understanding and no opportunity to discuss ideas with teachers or other students since ACE involves a lot of working alone, even when it comes to grading.
I realize that some of what I'm describing may have been due to the school environment, but I think the teacher I had was actually quite good. There's only so much one can do with a curriculum though, especially if you don't have any other input.
I'm not trying to rain on anyone's parade, really. I know some great people who came through ACE and are really bright and hard working. I just want to give an honest (at least by my experience) review from a student's point of view. I do not look back on my ACE years with any affection. I hated my school work and found it inane and boring and was resentful when I went to college and realized that I was completely unprepared after having earned such good grades in high school through ACE. If you plan to encourage your child to attend college I suggest going a different route, at least in high school, or heavily supplementing with other curricula.
- Reviewed on Sunday, July 8, 2012
- Grades Used: 1st-6th
- Dates used: 2012 (and am continuing)
To address Melissa (above): Don't throw the baby out with the bath water.
First, you said you used PACEs from 1994 to 1997. You realize that was almost 20 years ago and that PACEs have been updated a few times since then...right?
Second, some moms have found that using ACE for *some* subjects (generally the more teacher-intensive subjects, such as Math, English, and Reading/Literature) has been a huge blessing. These moms often use something else (such as Apologia for Science and Mystery of History or Trail Guide to Learning) for those subjects.
Third, you're absolutely right that using ACE in a school setting is drastically different from using it in a homeschool setting. For one thing, schools tend to follow ACE according to how it was designed: having students work independently and then score their own work. In a homeschool setting, not only can you work WITH your child in the PACEs (like Math...or even Science and Social Studies, which eliminates the "look for the exact sentence in the reading" part)....but you can also *score* your kids' work--giving you further insight as to what they need help with and where they're struggling. In a homeschool setting, parents are more in tune with what their kids are actually DOING in their PACEs (unlike in a PACE school setting). Totally different ball game.
Perhaps you're just getting your feet wet with homeschooling ...but once you've got closer to a decade under your belt, I'd be willing to bet you'll incorporate ACE (or even something similar) for at least a few subjects.
*WARNING* This post is extremely long as it contains an original post and an update several months later.
I wrote my original post in July and just wanted to come back to add something I've noticed since then:
As for the "naysayers" and negative reviews: My husband and I were talking about this idea that ACE is "too easy" just this afternoon. If you look through the Scope & Sequence for the ENTIRE program (K-12), I don't see how anyone could say it's "too easy." True, they may not introduce certain Math concepts at the same time as others...and true their 1st grade is very similar to what is generally pre-K work for most other publishers.
But here's the thing: ACE has been around since 1970. So, over 40 years. The only reason they are "behind" is that they have not caved to the pressure from the government to change their program and align their curriculum with state standards! The S&S for ACE reminds me of what *I* did in school (born in 1980). These days, Kindergarteners are doing what I didn't do until the end of 1st or even 2nd grade. ACE keeps K'ers right where they were 30 years ago. This is a plus in my book. They do their own thing and don't worry about constantly changing to meet state standards (or the Common Core Curriculum Standards, which is 'all the rage' these days).
Plus, ACE shows characters in modest clothing, uses the KJV *only* (love that!) and shows families who would most likely be Independent Baptists or the types who have tent meetings & revivals... if they were real people. I love, love, love the character traits being taught and I especially love how the program's cartoons present parents in traditional roles based on gender.
Of course, none of this is politically correct :-) ...which is another reason for the negative comments.
[Also, I now have my children score all of their work because, contrary to popular belief, ACE requires a decent amount of parental involvement. It is NOT 100% hands-off for parents. Therefore, by having them correct their own work, I'm not making things *more* difficult on myself, LOL]
ORIGINAL post in July 2012:
Wow--where to begin! In one sentence, I would say: This is--by far--the absolute BEST THING that has happened to our homeschool. Truth is, I actually wrote a blog post about it on my blog, http://caffeinatedhomeschooler.blogspot.com.... and if you're interested in reading my blog posts, feel free.
If you'd prefer read what I have to say here on Homeschool Reviews, I've copied/pasted the blog's content below:
First, let me begin by telling you what we HAVE used prior to discovering ACE:
BJU (both on our own and with the DVD program)
Mystery of History
Considering God's Creation
My Father's World
All unit studies/lapbooks
Charlotte Mason (including having daily copywork, weekly nature studies, short math and grammar lessons, read-aloud for history, and whatever else we threw in)
Tapestry of Grace
Learning Language Arts Through Literature
Story of the World (a few times)
CLE's Light Units
As you can see, we've "been around the block" and have tried various methods/programs. NONE of them compare to ACE PACEs, and I can't emphasize that enough.
I should probably also point out here that I'm a full-time WAHM (work-at-home-mom). This means that I need to spend about 7.5-8 hours a day *working* instead of *teaching*. While many of you may not be WAHMs, I'm sure that you have things you could be spending 5-6 hours/day on besides teaching -- such as tending to younger siblings, working with early readers, housekeeping, whatever.
Back to why we love PACEs:
I want to start this part of my post out by talking about the mistakes I made prior to choosing to go with PACEs:
Listening to naysayers. I have to say, MOST of the naysayers that I read were reviewers who have never actually used PACEs. Instead, they have looked at samples online and maybe even ordered one for to have at home. Either way, they've generally never actually implemented the program in their homeschool. This is what I call "the blind leading the blind," to put it nicely.
Only viewing online samples. Like the naysayers, I, too only viewed online samples and had doubts about using ACE PACEs. Samples are great, but they only let you view a few pages instead of an entire PACE.
One thing I absolutely LOVE about ACE PACEs is that there are no "grade levels" involved! They *have* created a manual for homeschoolers in which they have one page that tells you the PACEs that generally speaking would correspond with certain grade levels. Here's the thing: That's *their* idea of what corresponds to what grade levels. Other programs -- and *I* -- might have different ideas. Who CARES what they consider "5th grade" or "6th grade"???
For this reason, ACE has created diagnostic tests so that your child can take a test and see where your child should be in the program. One complaint I've seen numerous times is "My 5th grader tested at a 7th grade level in ACE's Math curriculum! ACE is so behind other programs!" I'm sorry, but I have to laugh a little at that. Once again, ACE has decided what PACEs correspond with what grade levels -- but that's *their* opinion. So, if your 5th grader tests into 7th grade Math, put him into the "7th grade" Math PACEs! PACEs are numbered for a reason, this being one of them. And if you're thinking "but then he'll be ahead and won't have any Math beyond 10th grade (since he's testing two years ahead), you're WRONG. Check out ACE's Scope & Sequence and see all of the upper level Math options. Believe me, there are plenty of Math options at the upper level. A child who goes along with the ACE grade levels wouldn't even have time to finish all of them, unless he or she decided to continue doing Math after graduation.
Now I want to do a "Myth vs. Fact" segment related to ACE PACEs:
Myth: PACEs are too "easy" & kids doing them are "behind."
Fact: I've actually pretty much covered that above. Read the paragraph where I discussed diagnostic tests and how ACE PACEs will meet your child wherever he is.
Myth: Kids using ACE PACEs can easily cheat since they're scoring their own work.
Fact: For one thing, see #3 above. For another, my children know that they are allowed to look back when doing the regular work but that when it comes to Checkups, Self-Test, and the PACE test, they are absolutely, positively not allowed to look back. PERIOD.
Now, I suppose if you have a child who is prone to lying and cheating, then this system might not work for you. And, if that's the case, I'd suggest dealing with those heart issues immediately! However, MY children are very honest (No, this does not mean they are perfect, but one thing they are is trustworthy). Therefore, I trust and know that they are not "cheating" and looking back during Checkups, Self-Tests, and PACE tests.
Myth: Lots of kids who use ACE PACEs somehow get all A's in their PACEs but then bomb if they're sent to another private school, public school, or when they enter college.
Fact: This one is an issue that could actually be true, but I'd like to address why my husband and I don't see this being an issue for us. For one thing, the Home Educator's Manual tells us parents that we're to review the material with our kids before they do a Checkup or Self-Test. If you do this review as the manual says to do, then you'll know what your kids have retained and what they're struggling in understanding.
Myth: All of the "fill-in-the-blank" in PACEs prevents kids from developing "critical thinking" skills.
Fact: For one thing, I completely disagree -- especially as the Literature/Creative Writing PACEs definitely have more than just "fill-in-the-blank" questions. For another thing, in addition to PACEs, we are working our way through My Father's World. Since we're unable to do MFW *daily,* I have my kids do all subjects in ACE PACEs. That way, I know they're hitting everything even when I don't have time to prepare in advance..or time to teach it during the week. Thus, they can develop "critical thinking" skills through the stuff we do (outside of PACEs, as we have time) or unit studies we do (outside of PACEs, as we have time). However, if we DON'T have time for unit studies and literature units, it's okay because my children's entire education isn't contingent upon me making trips to the library, researching what I want to use for unit studies, deciding which of the TONS of awesome unit studies I want to use, etc -- which was the biggest problem when we tried to do "hands-on" education 100%. Not to be rude -- especially because this was ME at one time -- but those seem to be the parents who are perpetually "behind." (Again, I'm pointing the finger at *myself* here also.)