Uncertainty. Failure. Is it enough? All of these questions swarm around your head as a home school parent after you’ve selected a curriculum. At A One-Room Schoolhouse, we use The Good and the Beautiful for most of our subjects, including language arts. The nagging question is “Does The Good and the Beautiful language arts work?”
I Say Yes!
The Good and the Beautiful language arts program “thoroughly covers phonics, reading, writing, spelling, grammar, usage, punctuation, vocabulary, geography, and art appreciation and instruction” (TGATB website). We chose it for many reasons, but its open-and-go nature and foundations in Christianity were a big part of our choice.
Along with the language arts program, The Good and the Beautiful has a leveled library system with a reading level assessment to help place your children within their library framework.
It should be noted that the reading levels and the language arts levels are not equal to each other. The language arts levels are considered advanced and not equal to grade levels. You can look at the comprehensive Q & A placement article here, but as you can see on the chart below, it is very advanced.
|Level K||Advanced Kindgeten|
|Level 1||Advanced 1st|
|Level 2||Advanced 2nd|
|Level 3||3rd/4th Grade|
|Level 4||4th/5th Grade|
Furthermore, the FAQs state that once a student has completed Level 5, they will be ready for the REGULAR high school language arts course from The Good and the Beautiful.
On the flip side, the reading level assessment is graded from A/B/C/D, 1A/1B, 2, 3, and so on until level 12. Although I have never seen it explicitly stated, these levels are equivalent to the grade levels.
How did I come to this conclusion?
I came to this conclusion based on comparing the levels of the books in the TGATB library to that of other widely accepted leveling systems. There are countless book leveling systems out there and consistency across systems is not guaranteed.
But, based on my comparisons, TGATB has done a good job leveling their library books to sync-up well with the majority of reading leveling systems.
So, back to my original question…
Does The Good and the Beautiful language arts work? TGATB reading level placement test is a quick way to monitor the progress of my students. At the beginning of the school year, I did a placement test for each student. This past week, at the end of the first semester, I did the placement tests again. I wanted to see what kind (if any) growth my students had experienced.
I was amazed at the progress these kids have made in their reading skills, specifically decoding and fluency. On average, the kids made a year-and-a-half of growth in their reading levels. GUYS, they did that in four months!
Yes, I did the initial placement tests right after the summer break (read summer slide). Also, many of these kids had their school year disrupted by the March pandemic shut down. So, yes, these students had taken some big academic hits, but…
I made a little chart for you. Just for your reference, I made level A/B worth .25, C worth .5, D worth .75, 1A worth 1, and 1B worth 1.5.
Look at that growth! Blue is where they started and orange is where they are now! I was blown away after doing the first few assessments. Then, I just wanted to burst with joy when I finished!
Every single kid made significant gains. This chart represents kids from private schools, public schools and home schools. Kids range in grades from Kindergarten through eighth grade. I was astounded. (Still am, for that matter!)
The proof is in the pudding, people, and that is some great looking pudding!
Now before I get a bunch of comments about my flawed thinking and over-generalizations. Yes, I know this is a snapshot assessment and not a comprehensive reading assessment. Yes, I know it is not a complete language arts test with reading, writing, comprehension, grammar, usage, and punctuation.
This is a quick, easy progress monitoring tool to guide the selection of appropriate leveled literature.
Furthermore, I know the students are improving accross the board. I study with them every day. I know these students inside and out. They are learning. They are making great gains.
In twenty years, when they talk to their friends about where they went to school and they say, “Well, it all started in this crazy lady’s basement,” I will be so glad to have been that lady.
Does The Good and the Beautiful language arts work?
(And…does the hybrid homeschool model of A One-Room Schoolhouse work? I would say yes to that, too!)