The definition of reading fluency is the ability to read with speed, accuracy and fluidity. Fluency is incomplete without all three of those components. In turn, all three of those components are necessary for comprehension. In her book The Proust and the Squid, Dr Maryann Wolf states that, “One nearly invisible issue in American education is the fate of young elementary students who read accurately but not fluently in grades 3 and 4. Unless their problems are dealt with, these students will be left in the dust. Some of these children become capable decoders, but they never read quite rapidly enough to comprehend what they read.”
In an article edited by Elizabeth Gromisch, titled “The Importance of Reading Fluency”, she writes that, “It is possible to become an accurate decoder while still lacking the speed and efficiency to become a fluent reader.” We would not say that an individual is fluent in a language if they struggle with pronunciation, sentence structure, etc. Students can spend time reading and decoding words without moving towards fluency. There comes a time when students must move past their decoding skills and move towards fluency and comprehension. Fluency is the key to comprehension. Fluency can be improved by the following:
Single word drills – readings of words that follow a specific phonetic pattern.
Phrasing – practice reading phrases, such as “went to sleep”, “under the bed”, etc., so that a student knows where to pause in a sentence.
Guided oral reading – reading out loud to a teacher or parent who gives feedback and guidance. Oral reading fluency is an integral part the training of Online Reading Tutor.
Modeling – reading by a parent or teacher allows a student to hear correct phrasing, pausing and intonation.
Struggling readers need to continue improve their decoding skills . But this is just one step in the process of overcoming their reading disability. Moving towards fluency is where students begin to take off and really soar in their newfound reading ability.
At Online Reading Tutor, training to reading automaticity or fluency is what separates us from our competition. Ours is the only reading software that measures consistency of processing speed and accuracy of student responses as part of the skill mastery criteria. This is an important part of student training because it ensures that students become fluent and automatic decoders, allowing them to devote cognitive effort to higher order comprehension skills.