The ability to read accurately, at an appropriate rate, with proper expression. 

Click here to access a printable copy of the information presented on this page.  

What is Fluency? 

The National Reading Panel report (accessed here) defines reading fluency as "...the ability to read text quickly, accurately, and with proper expression" (p. 3-5).  Fluency is important because it provides a bridge between word recognition and comprehension ("Reading Rockets", 2018) When a child becomes a fluent reader, the focus of reading moves from decoding words to comprehending, or understanding, meaning.  A reader becomes fluent when they are able to read text aloud effortlessly, with appropriate expression, as if speaking. To read more about what fluency in reading is, please click here to access the article "Defining Fluency", by Timothy V. Rasinski. 

Click on the video below from Reading Rockets to watch television anchor Deborah Norville and Theo Lion from PBS's Between the Lions define fluency and explain why fluency is important. 

Reading Rockets. (2014, Apr 15). Introduction: Fluent Reading. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogi7ANK49wk. 

Watch the video below to hear an EXAMPLE of fluent reading. 

Jamison, K. (2014, Mar 7). Fluency Example- 2nd Grade Reading. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyHIdJgNVMA. 

Note that the child is reading at a rate similar to a conversation pace; word recognition is accurate; expression is reflective of the mood of the characters. 

Watch the video below to hear a NON-EXAMPLE of fluent reading. 

Gilbert, A. (2018, Mar 24). Non-Fluent Reading Example. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y. xwswdoFFz8

Note that the teacher is this video is reading at a slow rate, making inappropriate pauses; while the teacher is able to word call most word accurately, some words are sounded out prior to being spoken correctly; the expression of the teacher remains the same throughout the oral reading. 

The 3 Components of Fluency 

 Click here to read the article "Reading Fluency: Speed, Accuracy, Expression, Oh My!" By Andrea Maurer to learn more about the components of reading. 

What the Teacher Wants Blog. (2012). Rate [Infographic]. Retrieved from https://www.whattheteacherwantsblog.com/2012/03/fluency.html


The speed and pace at which a reader reads orally.  Fluent readers read at a rate that is similar to a conversation pace. 

Some children may read too fast or too slow.  
Example of reading too fast may "sound" like this: Thecatranfastdowntheroad. Where the child did not take appropriate pauses between words. 
Example of reading too slow may "sound" like this: The.cat.ran.fast.down.the.road. Where the child takes an inappropriate pause after every word. 

What the Teacher Wants Blog. (2012). Accuracy [Infographic]. Retrieved from https://www.whattheteacherwantsblog.com/2012/03/fluency.html


The ability to read words without mistakes. 

To measure reading fluency accuracy a teacher will take a running record, where they listening to a child read and recording the errors they make while reading. The number of words read incorrectly is subtracted from the number of words within the whole test. The answer is then divided by the number of words within the whole text. 
Example: 7 errors in a 50-word passage would mean that the child read 43 of 50 words correctly, giving the child 86% accuracy rate.

What the Teacher Wants Blog. (2012). Expression [Infographic]. Retrieved from https://www.whattheteacherwantsblog.com/2012/03/fluency.html


The ability to change your voice to show feeling when reading. (Maurer, 2011)

Click below to watch a fun video from GoNoodle geared towards kids to help demonstrate reading with expression.

Blazer Fresh: GoNoodle. (2016). Don't Read Like a Robot. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjtPMiumixA. 

How do teachers assess fluency? 

Teachers assess reading fluency by taking a running record of the student's reading.  During a running record, the teacher will listen and track the words the child reads, using check marks to indicate words read correctly and recording and classifying errors.  

Analyzing the Error

The hidden information in reading errors. 

When children make errors when reading, teachers use those mistakes as clues to decipher what skills the child is relying on to decode unfamiliar text (Kruger, 2011).  

Three Types of Reading Errors
What the reader is thinking about as they read, what makes sense based on the picture, and/or what's happening so far in the text to decode unfamiliar text.
When readers use their prior knowledge of sentence structure, grammar, and parts of speech to decode unfamiliar text. 
When the reader looks at the letters in the word and uses what they know about how words work to read a word they see in print.

This is an example of a completed running record. 

E column records errors.  
S-C column records that the student self-corrected their error.
E/ M-S-V and S-C /M-S-V columns are where the teacher analyzes the error made.

How to Improve Fluency at Home

1. Read aloud to children to provide a model of fluent reading.
2. Have your child do a lot of reading.
3. Have children listen and follow along with audio recordings.

4. Practice "scooping" phrases.

~Readers are encouraged to "scoop" their finger under groups of words to form phrases within the sentence. 

Click on the image below to go directly to The Reading Mama's website to learn more about "scooping" phrases. 

The Reading Mama. (2016). Swooping Phrases [Photograph]. Retrieved from https://thisreadingmama.com/reading-fluency-phrasing/.

5. Practice different types of readings.
Paired Reading: When two children read aloud together.
Echo Reading: Child echoes the parent or teachers reading.
Choral Reading: Reading the same text together aloud.
Repeated Reading: Reading the same text multiple times aloud.
Reader's Theater: Children practice reading plays to strengthen expression. 

6. Practice sight words using playful activities.

~Sight words are words that do not follow the rules of phonics.  They are words that children must learn by sight and not rely on phonics skills to decode. 

Easy Pace Learning. (N.D.) Dolch Sight Word List {Graphic]. Retrieved from https://www.easypacelearning.com/all-lessons/grammar/1371-dolch-words-or-sight-words-list-in-the-english-language

Want to assess your child's fluency at home? 

Click on the images below of a blank running record to access a FREE copy to try with your child at home. 

An Apple For The Teacher. (2016). Running Record [graphic]. Retrieved from https://applefortheteach.blogspot.com/2016/07/reading-strategies-goal-3-supporting.html

Not sure how to take a running record?

Click here to read a guide provided by Scholastic titled "How to Take Running Records". 

Watch below to see a video of a teacher taking a running record. 

The Teacher Track. (2015, Apr 21). Running Record Demo Clip. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7C30JUucJiE

CLICK HERE or on any of the images below for a FREE copy of this amazing assessment pack created by Make Take Teach Teachers Pay Teachers creator. 

Make Take Teach. (N.D.) Dolch Assessment Pack [graphic]. Retrieved from https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Make-Take-Teach. 

Share your success or tips on how you build reading fluency with your child below: 

Do you have more questions about fluency?

Please contact me below with all your phonics and reading question to help bridge the gap between reading instruction at school and at home.