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"Fluency is the ability to read a text accurately and quickly. When fluent readers read silently, they recognize words automatically. They group words quickly to help them gain meaning from what they read. Fluent readers read aloud effortlessly and with expression. Their reading sounds natural, as if they were speaking."  Put Reading First, p. 22


  • Focus their attention on making connections among ideas in the text and their background knowledge
  • Recognize words and comprehend at the same time
  • Divide words into meaningful chunks so that they are able to read with expression
  • Score higher on comprehension assessments


  • Focus their attention primarily on decoding individual sounds or words
  • Spend their energies trying to “figure out” the words not the meaning
  • Read in a slow, deliberate, and labored manner often pausing at inappropriate places Score lower on comprehension assessments

Fluency and automaticity are often interchanged, however they are not the same thing.

Fluency means reading with accuracy, pacing (automaticity), and expression (prosody). "The fluent reader sounds good, is easy to listen to, and reads with enough expression to help the listener understand and enjoy the material." (Clark, Read All About It, p. 282)

Automaticity is the fast, effortless recognition of words that comes with a great deal of reading practice. "As a result of extended practice, an important change takes place: students learn to decode the printed words using significantly less attention. Because they require so little attention for word recognition, they have enough left over for comprehension." (Samuels, Schermer, Reinking, Read All About It, p. 269)

Prosody is the ability to read in a manner that sounds like normal speech.  Voice intonation and expression needs to mirror normal speech.  

What does scientifically-based reading research tell us about fluency instruction? (From Put Reading First, pp. 21-31 and Read All About It, pp. 251-287)

  • Repeated and monitored oral reading substantially improves word recognition, speed, and accuracy
  • Repeated and monitored oral reading also improves reading comprehension
  • Round-robin reading (students taking turns reading) does not increase fluency; there is too little actual reading time during round-robin reading sessions
  • Repeated oral reading improves the reading ability of all students throughout the elementary school years
  • Repeated oral reading helps struggling readers at higher grade levels

How can you help your students become more fluent readers?

  • Provide students with models of fluent reading -- read aloud to your students
  • Have students repeatedly read passages as you offer guidance -- one-to-one teacher-student reading
  • Combine reading instruction with opportunities for students to read books that are at their independent level of reading ability 
    • Text they can read with a high degree of success (with no more than 1 error in every 20 words) 
    • Relatively short passages -- 50 - 200 words
    • A variety of reading materials: stories, nonfiction, poetry 
    • Use different approaches to practice fluency: partner reading; student-to-adult reading; choral reading; tape-assisted reading; readers' theatre
  • Monitor your students' progress in fluency  
    •  Remember, fluency practice isn't just about speed.  Practice doesn't make it perfect -- perfect practice makes it perfect!
  • Many teachers are doing one-minute "quick reads" several times a day (after the flag salute, immediately after morning recess, immediately after lunch, and at the end of the day). The classroom teacher listens to a different student during each one-minute read during the day, offering corrective feedback when necessary.  
  • Students are charting and graphing their weekly progress
  • A daily "Must Do" activity is Partner Reading: partners time one-minute reads during Universal Access time 
  • Fluency practice passages can be assigned as homework with parents charting and graphing students progress

REMEMBER: Assessing fluency is not enough. If during fluency assessment you discover your students have decoding, syllabication, or other word recognition problems, then reteaching of those skills needs to occur.

Do you need a way for your students to record their repeated readings? Here are a couple of things that might help.

Reader's Library/Theme Paperback Book Log

Phonics Library/I Love Reading Books Book Log

Repeated Reading Fluency Reading Log

NEW!  Check out the new cummulative letter-sound practice pages on the Kindergarten Idea Sharing page.

The parent letters below provide a means to communicate your students' fluency progress after each Theme Assessment to parents.

First Grade, English                                                  First Grade, Spanish

Second Grade, Engish                                              Second Grade, Spanish

Third Grade, English                                                   Third Grade, Spanish

Fourth Grade, English                                               Fourth Grade, Spanish

Fifth Grade, English                                                   Fifth Grade, Spanish

Sixth Grade, English                                                  Sixth Grade, Spanish

This link will give you five different lowercase and five different uppercase letter naming/letter sounds fluency practice sheets. They can be used for homework practice (Parent signature space is included) or for paired classroom practice. Remember: Fluent decoding depends on fluent letter-sound recognition.

Letter fluency practice pages

Do your kindergartners need practice with the high frequency words? If so, the pages below might be useful!

High Frequency Word Practice -- Kindergarten Words 

Sally Shaywitz, in her book Overcoming Dyslexia, recommends that students practice reading word-pair combinations that might be problematic. Carol Jeanson, Literacy Coach at Bonita School, created these

Word Pair lists: Word Pairs: Verb changed to Verb + -ing

Word Pairs: Short vowel words changed to Long vowel words

Santa Maria-Bonita School District    Souza Center    708 South Miller Street    Santa Maria, CA 93454    805.928.1783
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