I know it’s been a while since you posted these questions, so I’m not sure if you’re still debating these. But I thought I would share a comment anyway, hopeful that it will be of help!
I am not really familiar with CLE, other than I have looked and compared their Scope&Sequence to that of Rod & Staff’s for English, as well as their sample pages. I have also compared those to Climbing to Good English’s.
We used Climbing to Good English for 2nd, 3rd, and part of 4th grade. My daughter and I loved this curriculum, from the colorful animals on the cover of each grade’s book to the simple typed-font black-and-white text. It is thorough and simple, meaning that it covers all that is necessary to learn the language well and is not overwhelming. It is easy to do a lesson per day since, as you mentioned, it was only one or two pages of work. My daughter was able to do most of the lessons on her own, which was really helpful during the time I was really busy with my little ones.
I really liked the tone of it, its setting being that of farm, family, work, community, school, and other things that were of good character being a great influence to my child. The texts and poems within the pages she was to read for a lesson were all excellent and I am happy to have her work on those, even for copywork.
~Pathways Readers are an excellent complement to CTGE. We still get the readers, as we love their stories.
We switched in the middle of 4th grade to Rod & Staff’s English and we really like this program also. It is not as simple as CTGE, and requires a bit more time to do a lesson, but it is extremely thorough, and practical. I have found it easy to teach with, too. My daughter can do most lessons on her own but I like to be involved and ask her oral and review questions from the teacher’s manual, as well as presenting the lesson to her for I think that it really helps her to grasp the concepts better as she does not have to figure them out on her own. There are also review sections at the end of the lessons and it does not take long to do the them, just a bit longer than with CTGE.
I find R&S English easier to teach than CTGE. It is well explained and detail oriented. But if you are looking for a more independent work for your student, I think CTGE would be easier for them.
The main reason I chose to switch to R&S is because I felt led to have a stronger Biblical influence, all the way around (most all subjects). We had been using R&S’s Spelling and my daughter really liked the Bible Thoughts section; I had also noticed how they used many sentences from Biblical accounts in their lessons, and it made me start thinking on this. I finally decided I wanted my children to not think of the Bible and Its accounts as a separate subject, but as the basis of everything in life. So along with other changes, we switched curriculum. Otherwise, I would still be using CTGE.
For my son we will be using the Phonics and Reading from R&S for 1st grade this coming year, to start on the same path.
We love the readers, and they are from Biblical accounts from 1st-4th grades. All of the phonics and other work is done based on the readers.
Also, starting on or somewhere around 4th grade, the lessons are only 3 times per week. That is a huge benefit! Just thought I’d mention it!
***I forgot to mention that Rod and Staff is working on a new set for first grade and it will be coming out in the Fall. We have chosen to wait for this new material as it will have some changes we are looking forward to, but it is still possible to use the previous revision.