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Reading Fluency Interventions: More Than Repeated Reading

National Reading First Conference July, 2005

Marcia Davidson University of Maine

Definition: Fluent

Pronunciation: 'fl-nt Function: adjective Etymology: Latin fluent-, fluens, present participle of fluere 1 a : capable of flowing : FLUID b : capable of moving with ease and grace <the fluent body of a dancer> 2 a : ready or facile in speech <fluent in Spanish> b : effortlessly smooth and rapid : POLISHED <a fluent performance>


Comprehensive Definition: Fluency

Reading fluency refers to efficient, effective word recognition skills that permit a reader to construct the meaning of a text. Fluency is manifested in accurate, rapid, expressive oral reading and is applied during, and makes possible, silent reading comprehension.
(Pikulski & Chard, 2005)

Long Term Trends in Reading Achievement (Lyon, 2005)


National Average Reading Score

Target Group Average Reading Score

285 286 * 256 * 285 258 289 257 290 257 290 257 290 * 260

Age at time of Testing



288 17
259 13














Year: 71

74 75








99 2003

National Assessment of Educational Progress, 1971-1999

NAEP 1992 Oral Reading th Grade Assessment: 4

Oral reading fluency was highly correlated with reading comprehension. Errors in reading that changed the meaning of the text were more directly related to reading comprehension than non-meaning related errors. The most fluent readers read the most books on their own.

Why is Early Intervention so Important?

What do we know about the effectiveness of most special education interventions for children with reading difficulties in third grade and later?
We know that it tends to stabilize the relative deficit in reading skill rather than remediate it.
Torgesen, 2004

Change in Reading Skill for Children with Reading Disabilities who Experience Growth in Reading of .04 Standard Deviations a Year

Standard Score in Reading

120 100 80 60 40 20 0
70 71.8

Average Readers Disabled Readers

G ra de 3

G ra de 4

G ra de 5

Torgesen, 2004

Grade Level

G ra de 6

Oral Reading Rate and Accuracy: Why it is so Important

Oral Reading Fluency: Rate and Accuracy

Correct Words per Minute: Fall to Spring Changes Across Grade Levels

Reading Rate and Accuracy

A proxy for reading proficiency. Often referred to as Reading Curriculumbased Measurement Poor face validity, but powerful predictor. Purposes: screening, progress monitoring, general outcome measure National norms for one-minute timings. NOT the same as mastery measurement.

New Hasbrouck & Tindal Norms (2004)

Not too different from 1992 norms.

50 %ile: 2nd Gr: 3rd Gr: 4th Gr: 5th Gr: 1992 94 wcpm 114 118 128 2004 89 107 123 139

Factors that might potentially influence oral reading rate (Torgesen, 2004)
1. Proportion of words in text that are recognized as sight words.

2. Speed with which sight words are processed affected by practice or individual differences in basic processing speed.
3. Speed of processes used to identify novel or unknown words -- phonetic decoding, analogy, context. 4. Speed with which word meanings are identified. 5. Speed at which overall meaning is constructed 6. Individual choices about the trade-off between speed and accuracy

Correct Words per Minute on Grade Level Text

120 110 100
Torgesen, 2005

Correct Words per Minute

80 70 60 50 40 30 20

33 WPM

45 WPM

27 WPM W S F W

Good, Wallin, Simmons, Kameenui, & Kaminski, 2002

W 3rd Grade

1st Grade

2nd Grade

Correct Words per Minute on Grade Level Text

160 150
Torgesen, 2005

Correct Words per Minute


18 WPM
130 120 110 100 Tindal, Hasbrouck, & Jones, 2005

23 WPM

22 WPM

W 6th Grade

7th Grade

8th Grade

Fluency Continuum

Surface level: Speed

Deep level: Relation to Comprehension

Looking deeper than speed and accuracy

Ehris Phases of Word Reading

Pre-Alphabetic Fully-Alphabetic Partial-Alphabetic Consolidated Alphabetic

Prealphabetic Phase

When a child recognizes the word monkey by looking at the tail on the y. When a child says that says stop! when they see a red octagonal traffic sign, but cannot read the word stop in isolation.

Partial Alphabetic Phase

Children begin to understand that there is a relationship between letters and sounds, although they tend to rely on beginning and ending sounds so they continue to make errors in reading words.

Partial Alphabetic stage

Reading bank as book, or bake, belt, or baseball Still a lot of potential for errors

Fully Alphabetic Phase

Students are able to sound out words successfully. They know the sound-symbol connections and move from guessing a word from the first or last letter in the partial alphabetic phase, to complete word decoding sound by sound. When they see the same word more than a few times, then that word becomes automatically recognized. As more and more words become sight words, students move into the Consolidated Alphabetic Phase.

Building sight word memory with spelling patterns

Readers learn that words share spelling patterns. For example, common vowel-consonant endings such as ight and eak. They can form connections between 4 written and spoken syllabic units, INTER-EST-ING, rather than 10 graphophonemic units. (Ehri, 2004)

Moving toward the Consolidated Phase

The fastest and least intrusive way to read text is reading words from memory by sight. Readers read them without effort automatically. The strength of this automatic learning can be shown with the Stroop effect.

Stroop Test

Consolidated Alphabetic Phase

Students instantly recognize words. And they are developing instant recognition of common word patterns which increases their sight word vocabulary. For example, in the word bank, a student in the consolidated phase may understand the word as b plus ank, processing only 2 units. In the Fully Alphabetic phase, the student sounds out bank as 4 units (/b/ /a/ // /k/). Students in the consolidated phase are well prepared to move into fluent reading. However, as they increase their sight word skills, they must also develop vocabulary.

9 Steps to Building Fluency




Develop orthographic/phonological foundations (phonemic awareness, letter knowledge, phonics). Increase vocabulary and oral language skills. Effectively teach high-frequency vocabulary and provide adequate practice. Teach common word-parts and spelling patterns.

(Pikulski, J.J., & Chard, D.J. (2005). Fluency: Bridge between decoding and reading comprehension. The Reading Teacher, 58 (6), 510519.

9 Steps to Building Fluency (2)


8. 9.

Effectively teach decoding skills and provide adequate practice. Provide students with appropriate texts to assist in building fluent reading. Use guided oral repeated reading strategies for struggling readers. Support, guide and encourage wide-reading. Implement appropriate screening and progress monitoring assessments.

(Pikulski & Chard, 2005)

Develop orthographic/phonological foundations (phonemic awareness, letter knowledge, phonics).

Alphabetic Principle

Teaching phonological awareness and sound-symbol connections (phonological-orthographic processors) Onset - rime Blending and segmentation skills Word patterns

Speed Drills

Students can begin doing speed drills as soon as they are reading a couple of words. You can make a speed drill with just 3-4 words (e.g., the, at, am) if a student is struggling with blending and cant really read yet. For other students, consider drills with word families (such as the am, -at, -ame, -ate lists. Or change the ending consonant in a speed drill (e.g., man, mat, map, mad). Rate is usually 50-120 words per minute. (from Fischer, Concept Phonics. Oxton House)

Relationships Among Phonemic Awareness, Phonics and Sight Word Recognition Skills.

Increase vocabulary and oral language skills. Effectively teach high-frequency vocabulary and provide adequate practice.
Beck, I.L., McKeown, M.G., & Kucan, L. (2002). Bringing words to life. New York: Guilford. Bear, D.R., Invernizzi, M., Templeton, S., & Johnston, F. (1996). Words their way. Columbus, OH: Merrill.

Teach common sight words to fluency.

For example, children must automatically recognize words such as to, of, and, at.

Teach common word-parts and spelling patterns. - prefixes, suffixes, morphemes, word origins

Effectively teach decoding skills and provide adequate practice.

Decoding Strategies

Goal is for words to be recognized instantly automatically. Strong core reading programs provide systematic, explicit instruction to support automaticity in word recognition.

To Be a Fluent Reader:

A child must be able to recognize most of the words in a passage by sight; A child must correctly pronounce words 510 times before they become sight words; A child must make accurate first guesses when they encounter new words, or the growth of their sight word vocabulary will be delayed they will not become fluent readers.
Torgesen, 2003

To confirm that a word is correct- other important word processes:

Pronunciation must fit spelling. Syntax confirms that a word is consistent with the structure of a sentence. World knowledge and text memory confirm that word meaning is consistent with a texts meaning.
From Ehri, L.C. (1998). Grapheme-phoneme knowledge is essential for learning to read words in English. In J.L. Metsala & L.C. Ehri (Eds.), Word recognition in beginning literacy (pp. 3-40). Matwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Phrasing and Chunking Text (from Hook, 2001)

Students who read word-for-word may benefit initially from practicing phrasing with the alphabet rather than words since letters do not tax the meaning system.
The letters are grouped, an arc is drawn underneath, and students recite the alphabet in chunks (e.g., ABC DE FGH IJK LM NOP QRS TU VW XYZ). Once students understand the concept of phrasing, it is recommended that teachers help students chunk text into syntactic (noun phrases, verb phrases, prepositional phrases) or meaning units until they are proficient themselves. Text can be formatted for the student or the student may write the phrases on an erasable sheet. There are no hard and fast rules for chunking but syntactic units are most commonly used.

Chunking and Phrasing

Hook, 2001

Chunking and Paired Reading

Pair readers (more proficient readers with less proficient readers) Select passage at the instructional level of less proficient reader Prepare passage by taking sentences and placing slash marks between phrases such as: The fast horse/ won the race. Model the phrasing for all students first. Have students take turns reading aloud the chunked passages.

(U. of Texas Center for Reading and Language Arts)

Provide students with appropriate texts to assist in building fluent reading.

The Importance of Text Features

Existing studies suggest that a majority of first graders do not learn to read as quickly as the tasks of current first-grade reading texts demand. (Hiebert, 2005, p. 262) Text features and characteristics need to be considered. There must be explicit connections between instruction and primary texts that students are required to read.

Wide-Reading and Fluencyoriented Oral Reading

Kuhn study (04-05). Second grade students in 4 groups of 6 students each reading at or below first-grade level (QRI). Wide reading, fluency-oriented (FOOR), listening, and control. Wide reading and FOOR outperformed other 2 groups in prosody and word recognition. Wide reading outperformed all groups on comprehension. Wide reading group read 18 texts and FOOR group read 6. Listening group heard 18 texts. Limitations of study Implications?

Some Types of Repeated Reading

Student-Adult Reading Choral Reading Tape-Assisted Reading Partner Reading Readers Theatre (CAUTION) Echo Reading

Choral Reading

Copies of instructional level passages. Give students copies of texts. Model the task by reading the first part of the text out loud. Set the pace and read with proper pacing, phrasing and expression. Read the same part of the text again and have students read along with you.

(Vaughn, Linan-Thompson, 2004. Research-based methods of reading instruction, grades K-3. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.)

Partner Reading

Prepare copies of short texts at the level of the less proficient readers level. Pair more proficient readers with less proficient readers. Model and explain partner reading procedures. Assign roles and have students take turns reading. Student A reads for 1 min. and Student B reads along. Then, Student B reads aloud the same text for one minute. You can have students chart their rate and accuracy.

(from U. Texas, Center for Reading and Language Arts)

Readers Theatre - Caution

Too often, children who need the most practice with guided oral repeated reading are given the fewest words to learn in Readers Theatre because they struggle so much. It is a time consuming activity. Consider whether there are more efficient ways to improve fluency.

Echo Reading

Give students copies of instructional-level texts. Explain that you will read some of the text, and students will then echo read the same text, modeling your rate and exression. Read 2-4 sentences. Then, pause for them to echo read, then read 2-4 more sentences. You can tape the 2-4 sentence sections, or have a student serve as the model reader.
(from National Institute for Literacy, 2001)

Support, guide and encourage wide-reading.

There is evidence that the development of language/ vocabulary and cognitive abilities is positively related to reading achievement.
(Cunningham & Stanovich, 1998)

Implement appropriate screening and progress monitoring assessments.

Sample Screening Measures

Oral Reading Fluency (ORF): Oneminute Timings
DIBELS and AIMSweb assessments focus on rate and accuracy at the level of phonological awareness, through connected text. Vocabulary and comprehension skills are included.

Fluency Activity

Two Passages: different fluency demands Read passages for 30 seconds and calculate correct words per minute Discussion