Functional Reading Comprehension Worksheets for High School and Transition Students

functional life skills life skills special education teachers teacher experience teacherspayteachers transition Dec 05, 2022

What is ‘functional reading?’ According to me, it’s being able to read and understand enough to get what you want or need AND what you don’t want or don’t need. This includes weeding out the fluff stuff that doesn’t matter.  The fluff detracts you from your goal. 

Functional reading is being able to turn on Netflix, read the gist of a new movie, and decide if you would like it or not.  Fluff: Competition Reality TV shows

Functional reading is being able to navigate the library website to find out if your book club meets on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.  Fluff: New children’s read aloud program

Functional reading is being able to pick up a new game, read the directions, and be able to call out the friend who is trying to cheat. Fluff: Manufacturing details

Functional reading is being able to both read AND understand what you are reading.  Therefore, functional reading comprehension is a life skill we all use multiple times every day. 

Functional reading comprehension is a skill every high school and transition special education teacher should include in their weekly lesson rotation.  You naturally weave functional reading into your lessons, however sometimes specifically reviewing the skill is appropriate.  

To make sure this resource was appropriate, meaningful, and functional, I asked myself, ‘What do I read throughout my day?’  

Here were a few of my answers:

  • I read Hello Fresh meal recipes to make dinner.
  • I read Netflix/Hulu/Apple TV’s new show and movie blurbs to decide if I should start watching a new show.
  • I read emails and Instagram captions and posts.
  • I read websites to find information about hours, programming, etc.
  • I read bills to make sure I wasn’t overcharged. 

Those were my top hits and I think they are pretty universal.  You probably read all of those things on a daily basis too, right?


Our students also need to read and comprehend what they are reading in all those same ways.  

Comprehension is more than just finding a single detail from a reading.  There are layers to reading comprehension, including summarizing, inferring, sequencing, and vocabulary.  

The layers of comprehension and high frequency reading examples are what make this functional reading comprehension resource so great.  



Here are the 12 reading passage formats:

  1. Movie theater description (a little more in depth than a streaming service blurb)
  2. Job description
  3. Medication directions
  4. Cooking- recipe directions
  5. Cooking- box directions
  6. Program guide
  7. Game directions
  8. Website
  9. Email
  10. Rental Agreement/Lease
  11. Paying a bill
  12. And a couple others 

There are 2 passages to each page and each passage has 3 questions.  

One question is about the passage in general to determine if the student understood the main idea of the reading.  

One question is about a detail to see if the student can go back and find a specific detail from the reading.  

One question, which changes for each passage, asks the student to summarize, infer, identify a sequence, or deduct the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary.  

Now, functional reading comprehension is a skill that should be revisited frequently because it’s a skill we all use every day.  Therefore, this resource includes 36 versions so you can use 1 page per week for a full school year.  


Grab this awesome resource (HERE) to help strengthen your student’s functional reading skills!


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