44% of the students have problems with fluency – but what is fluency? Why is it so important? And how could it be developed?
The National Assessment of Educational Progress conducted a large study on students’ fluency skills. The study found 44% of students to have problems with fluency.
These findings immediately sounded the alarm since Fluency plays a key role in comprehension. Seeing that fluency is highly dependent on students’ ability to recognize words, we need to take a closer look to understand what fluency is, how to assess it, and what we can do to support its development.
What is Fluency?
The National Reading Panel Report defines fluency as the ability to read a text quickly, accurately, and with proper expression. Before we dive deeper, let’s define a few terms that will help us better understand what this means:
- Rate is the number of words that are read per minute.
- Accuracy is the ability to read without errors.
- Automaticity is when the reader recognizes words effortlessly thus allowing them to read in a fast and effortless manner.
- Prosody means reading with expression. It’s using rhythm, tone, and pauses that make reading sound like we are speaking.
Why is Fluency important?
Fluency was identified as a critical component in reading due to the findings of multiple studies that have shown that there is a strong relationship between reading fluency and reading comprehension. A reader that is fluent will be able to read rapidly and accurately while also using phrasing and prosody effortlessly and for a continuous period of time – this will allow them to devote the majority of their mental resources toward comprehension. A non-fluent reader will have a lot of difficulties reading text and as a result will spend the majority of their mental resources on decoding, leaving very little for comprehension. In other words, a reader can’t comprehend what they can’t read.
A non-fluent reader will have a lot of difficulties reading text and as a result will spend the majority of their mental resources on decoding, leaving very little for comprehension. In other words, a reader can’t comprehend what they can’t read
How can we assess Fluency?
There are several ways we can assess fluency.
- Informal reading inventories assess students’ accuracy and comprehension. They also help identify a student’s reading level as independent, instructional, and frustrational.
- Miscue analysis is a running record that will help us identify students’ struggles when reading. Students might be struggling with:
- Mispronunciation: occurs when reading words with letters that have more than one sound (ex. reading a word with a closed vowel as an open vowel).
- Substitution: instead of reading the word provided, the reader will substitute that word for another that may or may not go with the story.
- Omission: when a reader doesn’t read a word in the text.
- Transposition: when a reader changes the order of the letters in a word (ex. changing act to cat).
- Repetition: when a reader rereads a word or sentence in the text.
- Self-correction: competent readers will correct themselves after making a mistake reading text.
- Insertion: a word, or words, that are added to a text when reading.
- Reading speed calculations involve using oral reading fluency charts in order to make goals and keep track of progress based on students’ WCPM (Words Correct Per Minute).
What can we do to support Fluency?
According to many studies on the topic, there are different ways we can support reading fluency:
- Give it time: Students will need to be given time to allow their fluency skills to grow.
- Give students choices when it comes to reading materials: Having a choice in what to read plays a big role in student motivation. At the same time, we need to make sure that students are able to read with more than 85% accuracy – otherwise, they will become frustrated and discouraged.
- Set goals: Keeping track of progress is a great way to motivate our readers.
Fluency is key to student success in comprehending what they are reading. Thanks to the findings of multiple studies, we know how to support its development and keep track of the progress our struggling readers are making.
By using the Amplio platform, teachers will be able to track students’ progress with reading fluency. MTA Reading Practices in the Amplio platform will give teachers the data they need in order to make instructional decisions and monitor growth. Teachers will have access to data that lets them know students’ WCPM plus specific miscue analysis.