Accelerated Christian Education

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Accelerated Christian Education
Accelerated Christian Education.jpg
Motto Reaching the world for Christ, one child at a time
Formation 1970
Type Christian education
Headquarters Hendersonville, Tennessee
Official language
English, Spanish, Filipino (Philippines only)

Accelerated Christian Education is an American educational products company founded in 1970 by Dr. Donald R. Howard which produces the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) school curriculum. As of September 2013 ACE serves over 6,000 schools in 145 countries. The company is based in Hendersonville, Tennessee (suburban Nashville), with their distribution center located in Lewisville, Texas (in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex).[1] It lists its principles in a "statement of faith" which declares the belief that the Bible is literally true.[2]


Accelerated Christian Education was founded in 1970 by Donald and Esther Howard.[3] They set about developing a biblically literalist educational curriculum that was adopted by a number of private Christian schools. Donald traveled extensively to promote ACE schools, viewing the establishment of ACE schools around the world as a new form of missions, which he called "educational missions".

The Howards opened the first school which used the ACE program in Garland, Texas.[3] They started with 45 students. By 1971, they had added six new schools.[3]

By 1980 there were over 3,000 Christian schools in the United States associated with ACE,[4] reaching a peak of 8,000 during the 1980s.[5]

In 1996 ACE opened a three-story facility in Lewisville, Texas to handle its growing operations.[3]

In 1997, Esther took over control of ACE.

In 2007 ACE moved its corporate offices to Hendersonville, Tennessee.[3] The Lewisville facility remains as ACE's distribution center.

Esther Howard remains as ACE's President, and Duane Howard (one of the Howards' sons) currently serves as Vice President.[6]

Curriculum approach[edit]

According to the curriculum section on its website, the ACE program is "individualized and nongraded." ACE states that its "core curriculum is an individualized, Biblically-based, character-building curriculum package".[7] The material for the classes emphasises reflecting the Christian ideas and principles of the company, including memorising Bible passages and learning creationism.[8]

The program allows students to advance through high school.[7] The Accelerated Christian Education curriculum is based on a series of workbooks called PACEs (Packets of Accelerated Christian Education).[9] At the beginning of each PACE is an overview of what the child will be learning, a scripture to memorize, a character trait to strive toward, and a "heads up" on what supplies the student will need. Each subject has 12 PACEs per grade level.[7] The basic subjects of ACE are mathematics, English, literature and creative writing, Word Building (spelling and word usage), science, and social studies (also known in the Philippines as Araling Panlipunan, Philippine history, and Asian history).[7] Test keys are published for corresponding PACEs. Additional PACEs apply, such as Filipino (Philippines only).[10]

A new student starting the ACE system is given a placement test, which assesses ability in the five areas with corresponding subjects. The test results place the student at appropriate levels by subject.[11] Students are required to set daily goals for work completion and are generally expected to finish a given PACE within two to three weeks (depending on the school). Students are given reviews at certain points in a PACE (called "check-ups") and a test at its culmination. The passing score for the test can be from 80% to 90%, also depending on the corresponding school. Students who fail must take what measures the school provides to pass the PACE.[11]

In addition to the educational material contained, many of the PACEs also include "Wisdom Inserts", small comic-strip features intended to demonstrate desired character traits. The strips feature many recurring characters, both adults and children, who all have surnames that contain a character quality (similar in some ways to the naming convention used for characters in The Pilgrim's Progress). The portrayal of the children is age-progressed; early-grade PACEs show the children as young while later-grade PACEs show them as teenagers.

The two main characters are Ace Virtueson and Christi Lovejoy, who are always portrayed as exemplifying impeccable character.[12] Ronny Vain and Susie Selfwill are portrayed as antagonists demonstrating bad character traits (such as bullying, disobedience, and arrogance). The characters (except for Ronny and Susie) also appear throughout several PACEs as narrators. The remaining characters are portrayed as "normal", showing good and bad character traits but trying to perform good behaviours.

Criticisms about ACE curriculum[edit]

Educational outcomes[edit]

Having researched comparative performance on the American College Test between public school students from one school and ACE students from another private school in the same geographic area, one college student wrote in her thesis in 2005 that "a significant difference was found between the public school graduates' scores and the ACE graduates' scores in all areas of the ACT (English, Math, Reading, and Composite Score), except the area of Science Reasoning. Overall, the ACT scores of the ACE graduates were consistently lower than those of the public school students."[13]

This same college student also noted that "the current study did not account for variables such as socioeconomic status, ethnicity, gender, or parent's level of education. These variables may impact ACT scores and therefore need to be considered in future research." Also, demographic information of the public school used for comparison in the study was not collected.[14]

It is also worth noting that the college student "compared the scores of only thirty-two graduates of the ACE program to the scores of 1240 graduates of the public school" and noted that this "large gap in sample sizes may also skew the results".[14]

Use of rote recall[edit]

The curriculum's emphasis on rote recall has been criticized by educational researchers. David Berliner described the teaching methods as "low-level cognitive tasks that emphasize simple association and recall activities, as is typical of instruction from workbooks... the materials make heavy use of behavioral objectives, programmed learning, and rewards."[15][16] D. Flemming and T Hunt in a 1987 article in the education journal Phi Delta Kappa analyzed the ACE curriculum, concluding that "If parents want their children to obtain a very limited and sometimes inaccurate view of the world — one that ignores thinking above the level of rote recall — then the ACE materials do the job very well. The world of the ACE materials is quite a different one from that of scholarship and critical thinking."[17]

Race and apartheid[edit]

The ACE curriculum includes controversial content in relation to race. Some content on this topic has been changed. A particular PACE stated,

"Although apartheid appears to allow the unfair treatment of blacks, the system has worked well in South Africa .... Although white businessmen and developers are guilty of some unfair treatment of blacks, they turned South Africa into a modern industrialized nation, which the poor, uneducated blacks couldn't have accomplished in several more decades. If more blacks were suddenly given control of the nation, its economy and business, as Mandela wished, they could have destroyed what they have waited and worked so hard for."[18]

In addition, the curriculum has been criticized for its depiction of racially segregated churches and schools.[19]

Creationism and the Loch Ness monster[edit]

Science is presented in the ACE curriculum through the framework of Young Earth Creationism (YEC). For example, in Biology 1099, the existence of the Loch Ness monster is presented as a fact (as a plesiosaur), and used as a proof against the theory of evolution.[20] Textbooks published in Europe removed this reference in July 2013.[21]

Family, sexuality and gender roles[edit]

Textbooks used in the curriculum assert that abortion is wrong, evolution is false, and homosexuality is a choice. They teach that wives must be subservient to their husbands and that one can avoid AIDS by being abstinent until marriage.[22]

Solar fusion a myth[edit]

The ACE curriculum (in "Science 1096") asserts that solar fusion is a myth, describing it as "an invention of evolution scientists."[23]

Distribution and promotion[edit]

ACE provides annual one-day training sessions for administrators. These are provided in locations around the United States.[clarification needed] The sessions focus on understanding and properly implementing the ACE program.[24] For Learning Center Supervisors a four-day workshop is provided annually.[24] The workshop is organized like an ACE classroom, allowing the supervisor to experience the ACE system as a student and learn how to implement the system.[7]

The program is used by homeschooling families and private schools. The company provides instruction and structure for operating a "Christian school". Schools are not required to use the entire ACE curriculum and may augment it with other resources.[25]

ACE student conventions[edit]

Schools that use the ACE curriculum may participate in the student conventions. Since 1976, regional conventions have been held throughout the world[citation needed] and the top-placed participants are able to proceed to the International Convention. This convention is usually held at a university campus, such as Indiana University in Bloomington (1990), the University of North Texas in Denton (1991), Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff (1993), and Purdue University in Indiana (1994). One of the national conventions is the All Africa Student Convention, which takes place in South Africa once a year at the end of November or the beginning of December at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa. The All Africa Student Convention not organized or hosted by ACE United States but by Accelerated Christian Education South Africa, which is a separate organization providing the ACE curriculum to African schools.

ACE holds an annual International Student Convention, for high school students, designed to develop leadership and project building skills and increase their creativity level through a healthy competitive spirit. The conventions augment the curriculum by requiring students to prepare to compete in dramatic, artistic and athletic events.[26][27] The conventions also offer "Events of the Heart", which allow students with mental and physical disabilities to participate. When the conventions first started, a parade in the hosting city would accompany a convention. In 1981, over 3,000 students and sponsors marched in New York City to celebrate the opening of the convention at Rutgers University.[28] Student conventions offer speakers. Past speakers have included David Gibbs from the Christian Law Association, Ben Jordan and William Murray (Madalyn Murray O'Hair's son).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "contact info". Accelerated Christian Education. Archived from the original on 2007-10-14. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  2. ^ "Statement Of Faith". about us. Accelerated Christian Education, Inc. Archived from the original on 2007-10-14. Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "What Matters Most Still Matters" (PDF). TimeLine. Accelerated Christian Education, Inc. 2006-02-14. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2008-02-27. Retrieved 2015-01-05. 
  4. ^ Stoker, W. M. Fred; Splawn, Robert (June 1980). "A Study of Accelerated Christian Education Schools in Northwest Texas.": 28. 
  5. ^ Adam Laats (January 2010). "Forging a Fundamentalist One Best System: Struggles Over Curriculum and Educational Philosophy for Christian Day Schools, 1970–1989". History of Education Quarterly. 49: 55–83. doi:10.1111/j.1748-5959.2009.00245.x. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b c d e "Core Curriculum". Accelerated Christian Education, Inc. Archived from the original on May 12, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  8. ^ Tim Johns; Emma Hallett (12 June 2014). "Life in a Christian 'fundamentalist' school". BBC. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  9. ^ "Curriculum". Christian Education Europe. Archived from the original on 18 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  10. ^ "Testing Materials". Accelerated Christian Education, Inc. Archived from the original on June 3, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  11. ^ a b "Why ACE". Accelerated Christian Education. Archived from the original on 2006-10-18. Retrieved 2006-11-02. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ An Analysis of Accelerated Christian Education and College Preparedness Based on ACT Scores, Lisa J.L. Kelley
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^ David C. Berliner. "Educational Psychology Meets the Christian Right: Differing Views of Children, Schooling, Teaching, and Learning". Arizona State University. Archived from the original on 6 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-07. 
  16. ^ Hunter, 1987, "Accelerated Christian Education Inc.: Marching to a different drummer.", cited in Speck and Prideaux (1993), "Fundamentalist Education and Creation Science", Australian Journal of Education, November 1993 vol. 37 no. 3 279-295
  17. ^ Fleming, D.; Hunt, T. (1987). "The World as Seen by Students in Accelerated Christian Education". Phi Delta Kappan (68): 518–523. 
  18. ^ David Dent (April 14, 1993). "A Mixed Message in Black Schools". The Day. p. B6. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  19. ^ Shaw, Michael (31 July 2009). "Fundamentalist exams on a par with A-levels". Times Educational Supplement. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  20. ^ Loxton, Rachel (24 June 2012). "How American fundamentalist schools are using Nessie to disprove evolution". The Herald Scotland. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  21. ^ Loxton, Rachel (28 July 2013). "Nessie cut from creationism". The Herald. Retrieved 11 August 2013. 
  22. ^ Wheatstone, Richard (19 June 2014). "'Wives should submit to their husbands', say textbooks used in three Manchester schools". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 22 June 2014. 
  23. ^ Scaramanga, Jonny (1 February 2013). "Nessie as evidence against evolution … and five odder things kids are taught". The Guardian - Comment is free. Retrieved 24 July 2014. 
  24. ^ a b "Training". Administrators' Training. Accelerated Christian Education, Inc. Archived from the original on 5 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-08. 
  25. ^ :: Accelerated Christian Education :: About Us
  26. ^ Microsoft Word - ISC Guidelines Section I Final 2007
  27. ^ :: Accelerated Christian Education :: Conventions
  28. ^ Dudley Clendinen (June 12, 1981). "Thousands of Youngsters in Parade for Christianity". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 October 2016. 

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