What is Reading Fluency?

Reading Fluency


Reading fluency is the ability to read with sufficient ease and accuracy that one can focus attention on the meaning and message of the text.


What are the causes of reading dysfluency?


Reading for understanding is disrupted by anything that impedes the mapping of print to language. The most common causes of reading dysfluency are word recognition difficulties, when students stumble on particular words or lack word recognition automaticity.

Comprehension difficulties also disrupt fluency. For example, when readers encounter unfamiliar vocabulary, they may misinterpret the usage or meaning of a word, lose the thread of a sentence, or fail to identify the contextual significance of other words in the passage.


How is reading fluency assessed?


Reading fluency is most commonly assessed by listening to children as they read aloud. When young readers lack fluency, their oral reading sounds choppy or hesitant, lacking the accuracy, rhythm, and flow that indicates confident understanding of the text.


Why is Oral Reading Rate, measured in correct words per minute, a good measure of fluency?


In today's classrooms, reading fluency is often assessed by measuring the number of words a child can read correctly in one minute. The reason this works is that difficulties and errors take time, effectively reducing the number of words that can be read before the minute is up. The greater the number of difficulties encountered while reading a passage, the more time it will take to complete the passage. The advantage of measuring fluency in correct words per minute is that it provides an objective measure that can be used to gauge and monitor growth over time.


If Oral Reading Rate is so strongly correlated with reading comprehension, does that mean that children should be taught to read as fast as they can?


Research shows that when reading silently, readers take time to reflect and review. In this way, silent reading is indeed different from oral reading. Nevertheless, any words or constructions that prove troublesome when reading orally can also pose difficulty when reading silently. A major goal in engaging students in read-aloud activities is to help them develop the skills and attitude to notice and conquer rather than avoid such challenges.


Fluency Resources


Chapter 3 of the National Reading Panel's 2000 report on Teaching Children to Read
This report discusses the nature and importance of fluency and evaluates research efforts on techniques for improving reading fluency.

Effective Fluency Instruction and Progress Monitoring
Professional development guide on fluency instruction practices.