Reading fluency describes a student’s ability to read with speed, accuracy, and the correct use of expression. It is an essential skill required to be able to make sense of what they read, whether they are reading silently to themselves or aloud. A child who has mastered this skill will read aloud in phrases and use the appropriate intonation and expression. Their reading will flow smoothly and be paced well, without any jolting stops and starts. Rather than simply being able to decode words and know how to say them, a fluent reader will draw their attention to the meaning of what they are reading. Reading fluency combines comprehension of vocabulary and the understanding of the text.
What signs indicate that a student is having difficulty with reading fluency?
- Reading speed is noticeably slower than their peers.
- No use of expression and they don’t change tone when reading aloud.
- Frequently stumbling and losing their place when reading aloud.
- Mouthing the words when reading silently (subvocalizing).
- Doesn’t pause at suitable points within sentences or paragraphs where a break makes sense in the context of what they are reading.
- Choppy or dysfluent reading.
- Frustration reading aloud, owing to challenges with speed or accuracy.
- Problems identifying individual letters correctly or making extra effort to name letters.
- Difficulty deciphering the sound a letter makes or reading words in isolation.
- Missing phonemes in the middle or end of words.
- Unable to use context to correctly identify words and instead frequently guess, substitute words or make careless errors.
- Challenges reading simple connecting or function words such as that, an, in the, etc.
There are multiple standardized and non-standardized tests and subtests to measure different aspects of a student’s reading fluency. Some tests focus on the oral reading skills while other tasks examine silent reading fluency. When the assessor is providing a written report to parents regarding their performance on fluency tests, it will be helpful to:
- Briefly explain what the test involved, using parent-friendly language.
- Include detailed observation(s) from the academic assessor especially if there were behaviors observed that may have impacted the score; note any strategies the student used.
- Share specific information related to the student’s ability by noting if they:
- Often lost their place when reading
- Used their finger to keep track of where they were on the page.
- Read with minimal or no emotion or expression.
- Had to use more effort when naming letters.
- Guessed at words or attempted sounding out words.
- Read in a choppy, dysfluent way or if it flowed.
- Highlight any connections between their performance on standardized tests, and how this relates to their classroom performance.
- Suggest action the parents can take and what to look out for at home, to help their child develop reading fluency.
If you’d like further information on how to help students enhance their reading fluency, check out our Reading Fluency document by filling out the form below.
Braaten, E. (2007). The child clinician’s report writing handbook. Guilford Press.
Kaufman, A.S., & Kaufman, N.L. (2014). Kaufman test of educational achievement, third edition. Bloomington, MN: NCS Pearson.
Mather, N., & Wendling, B.J. (2014). Examiner’s Manual. Woodcock-Johnson IV Tests of Achievement. Rolling Meadows, IL: Riverside Publishing.
NCS Pearson. (2020). Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (4th ed.).
Reading Rockets. (2021). Fluency. https://www.readingrockets.org/helping/target/fluency