I recall being in a public school classroom and sitting during the agonizing standardized tests in which my teacher would read a passage and I would answer questions. Do you remember doing that?
We do not do the standard fill-in-the-bubble type tests when we do our end of the year homeschool evaluations. My children do not do well with timed tests. Timed anything, really. When they take too long on chores I threaten to set a timer…boy do they get moving!
What do we use for testing then? After kindergarten we do a portfolio review and for grades 1-7 or 8 we use the Brigance test. After my children score out of that (around 7th-8th grade), I move over to the Peabody test. These tests are legally allowed evaluations that meet our state (Florida) standards. Be sure to check your state for specific homeschool laws.
These tests are wonderful, in my opinion. They are one-on-one tests with a certified teacher that are very informal and more like an interview. I get a grade level result for each area tested. These tests are very similar and I was so glad that when my oldest tested out of the Brigance test that we could move to the Peabody test without much difference.
Several years ago when my daughter was in middle school I realized (from the results of her end of the year test) that her reading comprehension was severely lacking. Honestly, this confused me because we used written narration and notebooking for subjects like history and she was great at writing out what she recalled after reading the text. When it came to answering specific questions about what she had learned, she froze and ultimately bombed the portion of reading comprehension.
So I did what most homeschool moms do – I asked for suggestions from my homeschooling mom friends on what I could use that would boost her reading comprehension.
The reading comprehension resource I was looking for had to be:
- Easy to use
- No fluff or busywork
- Short (like under 10 minutes)
I was given quite a few suggestions, some of which we already incorporated into our school day, such as written narration, as mentioned above. My veteran homeschool mom friend suggested an old-fashioned reading comprehension book set that was pretty inexpensive and absolutely no bells and whistles – so I gave it a try.
Guess what? It worked! I bought the five-in-one book set that includes 5 levels/years along with the answer key and it was remarkably inexpensive for 5 years – under $60 total! I HATE teacher guides (that is why I created Daily Skill Building: Vocabulary to be independent with no teacher’s guide!), so if you’re like me, you will be glad to hear there is no teacher’s guide needed (the answer key says “teacher’s guide” but it is really just a log book for answers and scores).
Each book has 78 three-minute reading selections on a variety of interesting topics followed by multiple choice questions to test student comprehension. After each test, the answer key gives you a grade level rating based on the number of answers that are correct. The reading selections can be a little dated, but they are so adorable and good-natured, and personally I like classic, old-fashioned texts.
I have been using this reading comprehension curriculum for 5 years now and my 4th grader started with it this year. It is NON CONSUMABLE so you can use it for 5 years with EACH of your kids! What a deal, right? You can also buy the books individually if you are on a tight budget. I prefer the complete set in one hardback book because the individual levels are small paper back books and won’t be as easy to keep in good shape for repetitive use.
These are the two books that I purchased:
There are 6 books though, not sure why Book F was let out of the hardback book set. You can purchase these separately, but you will still need the answer key. The answer key is also a log book, so you will want one of those for each child. It was about $5.00 when I bought it though, so it’s not going to break the bank.
I hope you find these reading comprehension books useful for your homeschool. In case you are wondering, the year after we used it for the first time my daughter’s end of the year evaluation score for reading comprehension soared!
If you are looking for FREE reading comprehension resources for your homeschool, check out this post: 29 FREE Reading Comprehension Resources. You can also learn great ways to build reading comprehension and why it is so important as well as explore strategies for developing this skill.