Wednesday, August 27, 2014

{Crew Review} Essential Skill Advantage Online Program


Levi has had the opportunity to help me review an online product during this second half of the summer.  Essential Skills Advantage (ESA) is an subscription service that helps students with – you guessed it – the essential skills necessary for academic success – literacy.

Essential Skills Advantage designed to help elementary-aged students with all the components of language arts

Reading Comprehension

A subscription (the premium program is $9.99/ month per student) gives you access to the entire elementary program, allowing you to customize each component to your child’s needs.  You can take advantage of the 20,000 interactive activities to create a language arts program to help your child succeed.

Equipment Needed: You will need an internet connection the entire time you use this, as well as any popular browser.  In addition, you’ll want the volume on (or a pair of headphones) as well as a computer that has Java Player 10 or higher. Sorry, this doesn’t work on an iPad – we tried.

How This Worked for Us:  There is SO much in this program!  Here’s a screenshot of all the options, once you have logged on:

ESA log in page

I decided to enroll Levi in the “Complete Reading for Grade 3,”  Which has 4 section:  Vocabulary Builder, Language and Grammar, Reading Comprehension, and Spelling.   Luke has been able to give the Reading Comprehension section a try, so I have asked him to just log into the single skill section:


There is a newer, second way to log in:  by skill development.  Say for example, your young student needs some extra reinforcement in phonemic awareness;  you can log into your Parent Portal, select “Individual Units,” Click on the activity you want your child to work on, and then have him sign in.

individual unit log in

There are really a lot  of activities and content in this program.  You can work on Reading Comprehension by reading stories and answering questions; Vocabulary by building words with prefixes and suffixes;  subject-verb agreement, punctuation, capitalization, and verb tenses (just to name a few) in Language and Grammar, and a variety of tricky spelling words by rule:


Parents and Students can see progress in several ways:


Students see a graph.  Notice the green bar at 80%, a good measure of skill development.



ESA screenshot of scores

Parents can glean more information from charts that show high scores, time spent on task and when tasks were completed; (click on the picture to see them close up).  There have been a couple times when I’m not sure the score report captured Levi (or Luke’s) performance accurately, but on the activity pages, there is a bug in the corner you can click on to report any difficulties.


Levi spent the most time working on some of the language skills, since he hasn’t had a grammar program since 1st grade.  Nothing was terribly hard for him, but I think it is important to note that the program does not teach skills – it drills them in a pleasant way. For example, Levi and I haven’t talked much about adverbs, but he does know the definition of an adverb;  this little bit helped him to be able to categorize a variety of adverbs according to the type of question it answers about the verb (How?  When? Where? How Often? To What Extent?).

Interestingly, the parent company of this program is out of Canada, only once did I see something that was definitely more Canadian English than American English, but it was an easy work around (and as I’m writing up the review, I cannot even recall what it was, so apparently it wasn’t very life-or-death and Levi and I could work through it!)

Nearly 100 Crew Reviewers had the opportunity to try out Essential Skills Advantage;  Please click on the link below to learn how it worked for their students.

Two Special Deals!

Deal #1:  A Free Version of ESA! Essential Skills Advantage has started to offer a sponsored version of our program that is completely free. You can sign up completely free at Members can enjoy access to every course ESA has to offer, but there will be sponsored advertising and some of the available features will be missing.

Deal #2: Coupon Code! You can use the code TOS50 for 50% off the monthly subscription cost for the life of your membership (as long as you are a continuous member).  You must sign up for the premium plan (regularly $9.99/ month/ student) by October 1st with this code.  Your monthly cost will be only $4.99/month/ student! 


Connect with Essential Skills Advantage:



Please read more reviews at Schoolhouse Review Crew.

FTC disclaimer

All pricing is accurate as of blog post

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