Website review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2013

Achieve3000: Achieve Language

Bilingual supports give kids access; repetition could be a turnoff

Learning rating
Editorial review by Common Sense Education
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Grades
1–12 This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, Critical Thinking

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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.

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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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.

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.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

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 Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

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

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

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.


Common Sense reviewer
Mieke VanderBorght Researcher

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Featured review by
Daniel C. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Fdny High School For Fire And Life Safety
Brooklyn, United States
High potential of learning for both teachers and students.
It's a wonderful program. It allows students to remain current with common core standards, and a world of contemporary knowledge. It also allows students to expand on their reading and writing a swell. There is great engagement on classified activities. There is a great support team on line. High potential of learning for both teachers and students.
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