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Fluency Pillar : Definition

Fluency is one factor that is considered when determining whether a student is a skilled reader.
Fluency is a combination of elements that amount to reading text with accuracy in decoding,
automaticity (effortlessly recognizing words) and prosody (proper expression, pitch and phrasing
or chunking groups of words) to aid comprehension of text.

There are two areas of fluency concentration:

What Is It? :

Why Is It important? :

Silent Reading – it is freedom from word identification problems that might hinder a
student from comprehending a text. When reading to him/herself the student is able to
process a variable amount of text, more than word by word, without mouthing or
reading the text aloud.

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Oral Reading – it includes reading a text aloud with automaticity (quick word
identification and pronunciation) and prosody with few hesitations or faltering. A fluent
reader is able to maintain an effortless pace of reading aloud for extended lengths of
time across different types of texts.

Competent fluency skills help readers to understand or comprehend the meaning of text,
increase their vocabulary skills and have a greater overall enjoyment of reading.

There is a strong correlation between reading comprehension and fluency. It is important for
ELL students to increase their fluency skills to aid their ability to make text more meaningful
across all content areas.
Many ELL students have difficulty with reading fluency due to their inexperience with the
English language. They need explicit instruction in fluency using strategies adapted to meet their
language needs.
Students need to make connections with what they learn. As the reading fluency of ELL students
increases so does their accumulated knowledge and sense of the world around them which helps
them understand more reading content.
Helping ELL students become more fluent readers who have the ability to comprehend a variety
of texts promotes overall self-confidence and motivation to enjoy reading both for school and
for pleasure.

ELL Considerations :

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Fluency Pillar: Theoretical Foundations

Accuracy and Automaticity : Proficient reading fluency is directly linked to comprehension of
text. Research suggests that fluent readers display an important component of fluency called
text automaticity (fast, accurate and effortless word identification) .This is achieved by
providing the student with successive exposures to text which eventually enables the student to
become so familiar with the letters and words over time, that it allows the reader to pay less
attention to decoding words and more attention to the comprehension of the reading passage
(LaBerge and Samuels, 1974).

Prosody: A fluent reader demonstrates more than just the ability to read accurately and quickly.
The reader is also exhibiting expression, or prosody, with the text. Research has shown that
fluent readers are able to make connections between written and oral language and are able to
apply their knowledge and read text aloud with proper expressive elements that enhance both
the reader’s and the listener’s comprehension (Kuhn & Stahl, 2003).

Research indicates that the keys to developing reading fluency is to model fluent reading and
provide opportunities to practice repeated readings of written text with teacher guidance and
assistance. However, the goal should not only be for the student to read with more speed but
also to understand the text and read with the prosodic skills of expression, intonation and
inflection.. Using different types of written language to read with the student that is both fiction
and nonfiction encourages student engagement and makes the reading experience more
meaningful. Noninformational materials meant to be read orally and performed for an
audience such as song lyrics, plays, scripts and poetry help students, particularly struggling
readers, develop an appreciation and confidence for reading (Rasinski, Homan & Biggs, 2009).

The publication of the Report of the National Reading Panel in 2000 as well as other fluency
research has reinforced the importance of consistently integrating the essential component of

Important Fluency Research :

Important Fluency Research :

reading fluency instruction into the teaching of reading in the elementary school classroom
(National Reading Panel Report, 2000).

Teachers should not focus on any one method to increase reading fluency but instead, they
should use a multilayered approach. The growth of reading fluency is the outcome of many
different kinds of explicit, systematic and comprehensive practices and instruction using a
variety of materials for student reading practice. (Hudson, Pullen, Lane & Torgesen, 2009).

Research has shown how important it is to provide opportunities to develop the three
components of reading fluency that consist of accuracy, automaticity and prosody, for all
readers but most especially for the struggling reader. Students exhibiting reading challenges
benefit from incorporating explicit fluency-based instruction in their reading programs
(Hudson, Lane & Pullen, 2005).

Many ELL students have more difficulty reading for meaning in English because it requires
background knowledge that is more advanced than their language skills. These students would
benefit from instructional methods and programs designed to accelerate the progress of their
oral English language development (Geva & Farnia, 2012).

ELL Considerations :

Fluency Pillar: Characteristics

Indications of Fluent Readers :

When reading aloud a fluent readers’ expression, intonation and pacing sound natural or very
much like how they speak in a normal conversation

Fluent readers recognize words and at the same time comprehend the text they are reading
without excessive effort

Fluent readers have the prior knowledge background to be familiar with the majority of words
in the text and make connections to the context to increase understanding

While reading the text fluent readers often grasp when something does not seem right or when
they have made a mistake in the pronunciation of words and go back in the text to reexamine
and self-correct

Fluent readers increase their vocabulary skills and demonstrate a common use of words they
have gained through reading by utilizing them in their writing and every day conversations

Fluent readers comprehend what is being read and are able to increase their critical thinking
skills by analyzing the text to make predictions, inferences and interpretations of the meaning

Fluent readers enjoy reading and explore varying types and genres of books

Assessment of Fluency: Accuracy
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Measuring reading accuracy helps the teacher choose texts for the student that are
at the appropriate difficulty level to help assure that reading practice is
manageable and attainable.

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Accuracy is measured by noting the number of errors a reader makes per 100
words. A running record may be used to help provide a detailed analysis
Observations and patterns that emerge help determine areas of need. The student
reads a short passage aloud and the teacher notes any errors such as substitutions,
word reversals, omissions or words the student did not know and provided by the
teacher. Self-corrections are considered correct.

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Three levels of text difficulty are considered. A detailed chart is included in the
Visual Resources section of this page. Text at the student’s Independent Level
(98-100% accuracy and student needs no teacher support), the Instructional Level
(90-97% accuracy and student can read and comprehend but with some
assistance) or the Frustration Level (less than 90% accuracy and student has
difficulty reading and comprehending, even with teacher support).

Indications of Nonfluent Readers:

Assessment of Reading Fluency: Automaticity
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Automaticity is usually measured as the reading rate and is typically accomplished
through timed readings. It allows the teacher to observe the number of words
read correctly and number and types of errors a student makes in a given time
period. Reading rate is not assessed until a student is able to read at the Preprimer
level or above.

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The number of words correct per minute (WPM) are measured using a stopwatch
and are recorded. It is best to conduct the assessment using books or passages the
student has read before or is able to read at an independent reading level.

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Set a goal for the future reading measurements that is reasonable and attainable
such as reading 5 or 6 additional words or an additional sentence. Timings should
be frequent and consistent until the student score levels off and new passage is
selected and the process begins again.

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The student can be taught to record their own progress on a timing chart once
they are familiar with the procedures. An example of a reading rate scale and a
rate record are included in the Visual Resources section of this page.

Assessment of Reading Fluency: Prosody
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A reader demonstrating appropriate prosodic skills shows that he or she
comprehends what they are reading and enhances the reading comprehension and
experience of the listener. Prosody can only be measured through observation of
an oral reading. Teachers most often use a rubric to measure appropriate pitch,
intonation, phrasing and expression. The measurement can be used to compare
the student to him/herself over time or between other students.

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There are several specific elements the teacher is measuring as the student is
reading. For examples of rubric scales that may be used to measure student
prosodic reading skills refer to the Visual Resources portion of this page.

Nonfluent readers have much difficulty, hesitations, stumblings and a slow pace when reading
orally or silently

Nonfluent readers have difficulty moving forward while reading when constantly stopping to
try to decode words without the benefit of the knowledge of different types of reading
strategies (usually only using a basic phonics word attack strategy) and pay less attention on
grasping the meaning of the content

When reading a text aloud nonfluent readers often read in a monotone without expression or
intonation which makes the text less meaningful to them and to other listeners

Nonfluent readers are unable to process or visualize text more than one or two words at a time

Nonfluent readers try to read a text quickly, eager to just finish it without self-correcting or
recognizing when something does not sound right as they read

As nonfluent readers grow older they may continue to need to mouth or read text aloud when
trying to read to themselves, which should have lessened with age and with increased
development of reading skills

Nonfluent readers often need to reread text a number of times in order to comprehend its
meaning

ELL students need to achieve a level of proficiency in speaking English before they can achieve
fluency in reading English aloud

Some ELL students may demonstrate the ability to read easily and quickly in English however
they may not fully comprehend the text as they read. Decoding and understanding the text are
different types of interconnected skills and strategies.

For some ELL students, just hearing the text read aloud is not enough to aid comprehension if
they do not have the prior background knowledge to understand the vocabulary and context of
the passage

ELL Considerations :

Some ELL students are reluctant to attempt to read aloud in English due to feeling selfconscious about having an accent or making a mistake in front of others.

Fluency Pillar: Strategies

Provide numerous opportunities, such as large and small groups and partner situations, for the
students to read aloud a variety of leveled fiction and nonfiction texts chosen by the student.

Read aloud daily to students to model fluent reading that is effortless, expressive and proceeds
at a flowing pace to enhance comprehension and listening pleasure.

When reading aloud, emphasize expression, intonation and speed based on punctuation and the
context of the content.

Repeated Readings –

Supporting Fluency at School :

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The student reads the same passage several times aloud with someone who can
provide guidance such as a teacher, adult or student partner

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The student reads the same passage several times aloud while listening to a recording.

Readers Theatre –
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The Readers Theatre technique is repeated reading strategy. It makes use of a wide
variety of texts such as poetry, plays, and readings using content from all subject areas.
It enhances student comprehension and confidence by encouraging active
involvement through practice and performing of read aloud scripts.

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Readers Theatre is a purposeful activity that gives a student a reason to repeatedly read
aloud using expression, intonation and inflection which aids the reading fluency of
struggling readers as well as proficient readers. Comprehension is reinforced each time
the script is read and performed for others in a fun and entertaining way.

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A script is chosen that is enjoyable and contains a lot of dialogue. Students start out
slowly and are provided time to practice reading the script aloud. They always read
from the script and do not memorize it. Scripts may be modified as needed.

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Small groups are best when exploring this strategy. No stage is necessary. Students are
matched with characters and dialogue and perform for an audience or group. Repeated
performances benefits fluency as the student gradually becomes more proficient over
time.

Echo Reading –
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This simple strategy is helps struggling readers learn about fluency, vocabulary and
reading rate. It is easily modified to fit the needs of the student.

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This is a rereading strategy in which the teacher reads a manageable amount of text
aloud (a sentence or phrase) while pointing out the print and punctuation, using
proper expression and phrasing. The student follows along and tries to imitate, or
echo, exactly how the text was read by teacher. Over time the teacher gradually
withdraws the modeling as the student becomes more independent.

Choral Reading –
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This method provides an opportunity for students to practice and receive support for
reading fluency and vocabulary before they have to perform it on their own.

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After the teacher has first read the selection aloud to the group (small, large or whole
class), together the students reread the text aloud.

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The teacher may vary the activity by choosing different groups of students to read in
unison from different parts of the text. A wide variety of engaging genres and contentrelated text should be utilized to reinforce curriculum and motivation.

Supporting Fluency at Home :

ELL Considerations :

Discuss with each other about what to read together. Choose books and stories that interest
both of you and that will spark conversations. Most importantly, make reading a fun, sharing,
family experience!

Model fluent reading by reading daily with your child. Make the experience enjoyable by using a
high interest book and reading with plenty of expression, intonation (rising and falling of the
pitch of the voice) and inflection (using different tones of the voice to show feeling).

Use the Echo Reading technique explained above to take turns reading aloud passages and
books with your child. The parent reads first using much expression and then the child reads
aloud echoing in the same style.

Encourage and listen to the child’s take-home poems, stories and ideas.

Support fluency by providing your child with audio recordings of his/her favorite books and
then listen to them together. Use the library to check out audio books and offer opportunities
for your child to repeatedly listen to a wide variety of genres.

Use a wide variety of materials that are enjoyable to read aloud as well as perform or
demonstrate. The materials should be at the child’s reading level and have meaning to better
facilitate oral reading and comprehension. Examples of engaging reading materials that lend
themselves well to reading aloud are poetry, plays, scripts, nursery rhymes, song lyrics, riddles
and other texts that explore the written word in fun and creative ways.

Fluency instruction for ELLs should integrate the elements of decoding, vocabulary and
comprehension skills into the lesson at the same time. Each of these components builds and
reinforces the others.

Activities that support reading fluency for ELL students also contribute to the development of
oral language skills in English. As students practice reading English aloud they become more
aware of word sounds, intonation and pacing which increases their vocabulary knowledge and
oral language fluency.

Common miscues or mispronunciations in English due to dialect and language differences from
ELL students that attempt to read orally that do not affect comprehension should not be given
undue attention or correction so as not to interrupt the pacing and flow of the reading of text

Repeated Readings - Although it is helpful for nonfluent native English speakers to listen to
proficient readers read passages aloud multiple times to further develop their fluency skills,
there is less benefit for ELL students because of their limited English vocabulary and
background knowledge. This should be one of several strategies used in a multilayered
approach.

Provide a level of text to ELL students they can independently read that is interesting and
motivating to enable them to make connections and practice rereading it both silently and
orally.

Model reading an appropriately leveled short passage emphasizing expression, intonation and
pacing based on punctuation and have the student immediately read it back to you. Practice this
several times.

Fluency Pillar: Visual Resources

Measuring Reading Fluency :
Accuracy

An example of a scale used to determine text difficulty for a student

Ford, K. (2012). ELLs and reading fluency in English . Retrieved from
http://www.colorincolorado.org/educators/teaching/fluency/

An example of a Reading Rate scale that may be used to determine progress throughout the
school year.

Ford, K. (2012). ELLs and reading fluency in English. Retrieved from
http://www.colorincolorado.org/educators/teaching/fluency/

Timing card of student record of correct Words per Minute (WPM) rate

Hudson, R., Lane, H., & Pullen, P. (2005). Reading fluency assessment and instruction: What,
why, and how?. The Reading Teacher, 58(8), 702-714.

Measuring Reading Fluency :
Automaticity

Measuring Reading Fluency :
Prosody

One example of a reading prosody rubric that may be used to help determine student fluency

Ford, K. (2012). ELLs and reading fluency in English. Retrieved from
http://www.colorincolorado.org/educators/teaching/fluency/

Another example of a reading prosody rubric that may be used to help determine student
fluency

© 2010 by Irene C Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann & Pearson
Australia. As retrieved from
http://books.heinemann.com/comprehending/pdfs/scaleforassessingfluency.pdf.

Fluency Pillar: References
August, D. & Shanahan, T. (2006). Developing literacy in second-language learners: Report of the national
literacy panel on language-minority children and youth. Mahwah, N.J. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates,
Inc. Publishers.
Ford, K. (2012). ELLs and reading fluency in English . Retrieved from
http://www.colorincolorado.org/educators/teaching/fluency/
Fountas, I.C. & Pinnell, G.S. (2010). A scale for assessing fluency. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann &
Pearson Australia. As retrieved from
http://books.heinemann.com/comprehending/pdfs/scaleforassessingfluency.pdf.

References:

Geva, E. & Fananeh, F. (2012). Developmental changes in the nature of language proficiency and
reading fluency paint a more complex view of reading comprehension in ELL and EL1. Read
Write, 25, 1819-1845.
Hasbrouck, J. (n.d.). Understanding and assessing fluency. Retrieved from
http://www.readingrockets.org/article/understanding -and-assessing-fluency.
Hudson, R., Lane, H., & Pullen, P. (2005). Reading fluency assessment and instruction: What, why,
and how?. The Reading Teacher, 58(8), 702-714.
Hudson, R., Lane, H., Pullen, P. & Torgesen, (2009). The complex nature of reading fluency: A
multidimensional view. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 25, 4-32.
Irujo, S. (2007). What does research tell us about teaching reading to English language learners? Haverhill, MA:
The ELL Outlook. As retrieved from
http://www.colorincolorado.org/researchbykeywords/fluency/.

Kuhn, M. & Stahl, S. (2003). Fluency: A review of developmental and remedial practices. Journal of
Educational Psychology, 95(1), 3-21.
Kuhn, M., Schwanenflugel, P. & Meisinger, E. (2010). Aligning theory and assessment of reading
fluency: Automaticity, prosody, and definitions of fluency. Reading Research Quarterly, 45(2), 230251.
LaBerge, D., & Samuels, S. J. (1974). Toward a theory of automatic information processing reading.
Cognitive Psychology, 6, 293-323.
National Reading Panel. (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research
literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. Reports of the subgroups. Washington, DC:
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Rasinski, T., Homan, S, & Biggs, M. (2009). Teaching reading fluency to struggling readers:
Methods, materials, and evidence. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 25, 193-204.
Robertson, K. (2009). Reading 101 for English language learners. Retrieved from
http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/33830/.
Texas Education Agency (2002). Fluency: Instructional guidelines and student activities. Excerpted from:
Guidelines for Examining Phonics and Word Recognition Programs,. Texas Reading Initiative. Retrieved
from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/fluency-instructional-guidelines-and-studentactivities.