What is Reading Fluency?
Reading fluency involves the ability to read text smoothly and at a reasonable rate. When fluent readers read aloud, they do so effortlessly with speed, accuracy, and proper expression as though they are speaking. Because of the "automatic" nature of their reading, fluent readers are able to focus their attention on the ideas in the text and comprehend the author's message.
On the other hand, less fluent readers struggle along through text in a very labored, word-by-word way. They must focus most of their attention on decoding the words, so comprehension suffers. Comprehension can be virtually ignored when readers must devote most of their mental energies on decoding. Thus, fluency is important because it provides a kind of bridge between word recognition and reading comprehension (National Reading Panel, 2000; Rasinski, 1985; Reutzel & Hollingsworth, 1993).
What Skills Do Fluent Readers Possess?
There seems to be agreement among researchers as to the skills one must develop to become a fluent reader (Allington, 2001; Juel, 1991; National Reading Panel, 2000; Richards, 2000). They include the following:
- Automaticity involves translating letters to sounds to words effortlessly and accurately.
- Quality refers to the reader's ability to use proper intonation or expression (i.e., "prosodic features"-pitch, juncture, and stress) in one's voice.
- Rate involves attaining appropriate reading speed according to the reader's purpose or the type of passage. What is an appropriate rate?
Oral reading fluency end-of-year goals for grade levels 1-5: Words per minute (wpm) - Instructional level (adequate) text
|Grade Level||Minimum Words per minute* (wpm)||Fluent Oral Reading (wpm)|
|Grade 1||60 wpm||80 wpm|
|Grade 2||70 wpm||100 wpm|
|Grade 3||80 wpm||126 wpm**|
|Grade 4||90 wpm||162 wpm**|
|Grade 5||100 wpm||180 wpm|
* Adapted from Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, 2002, at the Texas Education Agency Web site www.tea.state.tx.us
**Source: Listening to Children Read Aloud. Washington DC, US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1995, 1/p.44
Armed with these three abilities, a fluent reader can decode words in a text accurately, with correct phrasing and intonation, and at a rate that facilitates text comprehension.
© ______ 2005, Allyn & Bacon, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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