Common Sense Review
Updated November 2013

Achieve3000: Achieve Language

Bilingual supports give kids access; repetition could be a turnoff
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Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 4
  • Start lesson about boy in a hot air balloon; many instructions are in Spanish, but the article is in English.
  • Key vocabulary words are available with definitions in both Spanish and English.
  • After reading, kids answer a thought question.
  • Teachers see suggestions for ELL-specific supports.
  • Teachers can generate various reports and assessment information.
Pros
Individualized settings for text complexity are a nice touch; the English/native language interface works well.
Cons
A limited number of native languages are supported; better user support and how-to guides would be a boost.
Bottom Line
Solid individualized, though repetitive, ELL instruction in reading comprehension, vocabulary, and argumentative writing.
Mieke VanderBorght
Common Sense Reviewer
Researcher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Interesting real-world articles encourage ELL kids to engage with their classmates and learn socially. However, following the same five-step routine over and over is bound to get tedious.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Text complexity and bilingual instruction adjust according to individual students' needs. Extra supports focus on building essential English vocabulary. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Correct answers for reading comprehension questions can be hard to locate, and support guides for teachers could be clearer. Teachers have access to detailed data and reports on students' use and progress.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Exploring the same topic can be a great way to unify students as they explore and discuss different topics and readings together in class. The program's opinion polls can be another great tool; with some sentence starters as scaffolding, teachers could publish poll results as discussion starters: Why did kids vote the way they did? How many changed their minds after reading the article, and why?

Depending on their levels of English ability, kids might also begin to write paragraphs and essays based on the program's writing step. With the language and vocabulary they've collected along the way, students should have lots of material to work with as they start to construct new ideas. Detailed progress reports allow teachers to track how the whole class is doing and what each kid is learning.

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What's It Like?

Achieve3000: Achieve Language is designed to help English language learners (ELLs) improve their reading comprehension, vocabulary, and writing skills. Students begin by taking a Lexile placement test to measure their reading level (based on text complexity). As teachers assign readings to a class, the program customizes the reading level and text complexity for each student, even as everyone in the class reads the same content.

Assignments follow a five-step literacy routine: Consider prior experience with a new topic; read an article; complete a multiple-choice comprehension quiz; respond (orally or in writing) to a thought question; and respond to an opinion poll. At the time of review, it appears that native-language support in the program is limited to Spanish and Haitian-Creole. It's important to note that Achieve Language is similar to Achieve's other offering for non-ELL students. However, within Achieve Language kids can access instructions in both English and their native languages. Special supports provide extra practice with important English vocabulary; Spanish-speaking students can do the entire experience in Spanish. Teachers and administrators have access to progress reports and other usage data.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Achieve3000: Achieve Language excels in using a set formula to guide ELLs through reading, understanding, analyzing, and forming text-supported arguments in English. The Lexile system and bilingual instruction features are useful tools to help challenge each student at just the right level. And, since the whole class reads the same content, ELL kids can have greater access to the curriculum and related activities and discussions.

However, repeating the program's "five steps" routine could be tedious for students who find the system formulaic. Navigation and setup can sometimes be confusing; posted support guides could be clearer to help both teachers and students. Teachers can choose for material to appear either bilingually or entirely in a student's native language. However, it's unclear how well the program adapts as kids become more fluent in English. Because some ELLs' language abilities advance quickly, this feature would be helpful in further meeting students' needs. Expanded native language support would also be an excellent and useful addition for teachers who work with diverse ELL populations.

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See how teachers are using Achieve3000: Achieve Language