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Title I Fluency Information

February 21, 2018


What is Reading Fluency?

Fluency is "the ability to read smoothly, easily, and readily with freedom from work recognition problems."  Fluency is necessary for good comprehension and enjoyable reading.  Nonfluent readers read slowly and spend so much time trying to identify unfamiliar words that they have trouble comprehending what they're reading.  Lack of fluency adds extra stress to completing every school assignments and is not just evident during reading lessons or reading tests.  Lack of fluency also contributes to the amount of homework a child has and the time it takes a child to complete homework.  Because fluency leads to comprehension, fluent readers enjoy reading more than students who devote all their energy to sounding out words.

The Components of Fluency

  • Speed refers to rate of reading, usually determined in words per minute (WPM) or words correct per minute (WCPM).
  • Accuracy means that the student recognizes most words automatically with little effort or attention.  It should be expected that students will make some errors.  If the student misses more than 10% of the words in a passage, the text or material is probably too difficult.
  • Appropriate Expression means that the student uses phrasing, tone, and pitch so that oral reading sounds conversational.
  • Comprehension refers to understanding.  Without comprehension, reading is merely word calling or barking at print.

Assessing Reading Fluency

In order to help students develop fluency, oral reading accuracy and rate must be tested.    There are several measurement tools to identify the accuracy and rate, and nationally-normed averages exist.  Auburn Community Unit School District # 10 uses AIMSweb as a district wide fluency measurement.  This benchmark test is performed three times per year.  

Ways to Improve Fluency

  • Modeling:  Be a fluent reader for your child.  Read aloud and read often.  Show your child what a fluent reader sounds like.  Recorded books also serve this purpose.
  • Echo Reading: The parent reads aloud a segment of text while the child follows along.  The child then rereads the same segment.
  • Choral Reading:  The parent and child read a text in unison.
  • Read-Aloud:  the parent selects and practices a book to read aloud with specific emphases in mind.
  • Partner Reading:  In some manner, the parent and child read a text together.  There are many variations of this procedure.
  • Neurological Impress:  The parent sits alongside the child and reads into the child's ear while the child also reads aloud.
  • Reading While Listening:  The child reads silently while listening to the parent read the text aloud, modeling proficient reading.  There are many variations to this procedure.
  • Closed Captioned Television:  The sound is turned off and the captions are turned on.  The child then watches and reads a given television show.
  • Text Chunking:  Students read aloud a passage that has been marked with slash marks to show phrase boundaries. (grouping words as you normally speak)  Passages from poetry, speeches, or songs usually work best, although narrative with frequent punctuation marks can also be used.
  • Repeated Readings:  The use of repeated readings is one of the most effective ways of improving fluency.  The material should be "easy reads" for students, to provide problem-free reading experiences.  These passages or selections should also be high-interest so that students will not become bored with the repetition.
  • Readers Theater:  The technique gives groups of students an opportunity to practice and demonstrate fluency.  Each student is assigned a particular role (one or more character's words or thoughts, the "narrator" who reads the narrative) to dramatize a story that is then presented to classmates.
  • Sustained Silent Reading:  This technique encourages students to practice self-selected books.  The purpose is to provide an opportunity for students to practice reading text that is relatively easy and of interest to them.  The goal is to develop fluency and, at the same time, expand their vocabularies and develop broader knowledge of written language. 


Automaticity refers to knowing how to do something so well you don't have to think about it.  As tasks become easier, they require less attention and practice.  For reading, automaticity refers to the ability to accurately and quickly recognize many words as whole units.  The advantage of recognizing a word as a whole unit is that words have meaning, and less memory is required for a meaningful word than for a meaningless letter.  The child needs between 7-21 exposures to a new word to recognize it automatically.  However, children with reading difficulties need 40 or more exposures to a new word!  Nonfluent readers read slowly and spend so much time trying to identify unfamiliar words that they have trouble comprehending what they're reading.  

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