Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Significance of Fluency in Reading

Question: What is the effect of fluency on reading performance?

Answer/Quote: “In reading education circles, fluency (or rate) has historically taken a back seat to word recognition and comprehension…. With the turn of the century, however, things have changed. Today, fluency is viewed as a central component of reading skill—one of the five instructional ‘pillars’ or targets cited in the report of the National Reading Panel (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000).”

“Experts still disagree about the precise definition of reading fluency; for example, does the construct include word recognition accuracy, rate, prosody [stress, intonation RayS.], comprehension, or some combination of these…? Nonetheless, the practical implications of fluent reading are clear. Above first grade, students need to read text with sufficient speed and rhythm if they are to (a) enjoy reading, (b) concentrated on meaning, and (c) complete reading assignments in a reasonable amount of time.. And it follows that students who process text in a very slow, halting, unconfident manner are at a considerable disadvantage as they advance through the grades.”

“The point is that, for an individual, there must be some minimum reading rate (or processing speed) that encourages independent, self-selected reading. If as teachers we can help students…get to that rate, then the self-improving aspect of reading may take over; that is, the more you read, the better you read. For educators, this may be the most important message….”

The authors describe their methods for helping an eighth-grade student with the fluency of a second-grader improve his fluency.

Comment: I personally welcome this emphasis on reading fluency. The assumption is that if the student learns to read fluently orally, the speed of reading will be applied when reading silently. However, I think that this assumption needs to be tested. RayS.

Title: “Building Reading Fluency in a Learning-Disabled Middle School Reader. Darrell Morris and Meghan Gaffney. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy (February 2011), 331-341.

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