The United States’ National Reading Panel’s definition of fluency is the ability to read text with accuracy, appropriate rate, and good expression (NICHD, 2000).
Fluency is key to reading comprehension. According to the National Reading Panel’s website, “ Reading fluency is one of several critical factors necessary for reading comprehension, but is often neglected in the classroom. If children read out loud with speed, accuracy, and proper expression, they are more likely to comprehend and remember the material than if they read with difficulty and in an inefficient way. Two instructional approaches have typically been used to teach reading fluency. One, guided repeated oral reading, encourages students to read passages out loud with systematic and explicit guidance and feedback from their teacher. The other, independent silent reading, encourages students to read silently on their own, inside and outside the classroom, with little guidance or feedback from their teachers.”
When children are first learning to read, their focus is on decoding the words. Their oral reading is slow and there is little comprehension. In her book Overcoming Dyslexia , Dr. Sally Shaywitz writes: “The programs that work most effectively and produce the largest gains share three key features: (1) a focus on a child’s oral reading, (2)opportunities for practice, allowing a child to read and to reread words aloud in connected text, and (3) ongoing feedback as a child reads…The feedback component is essential because it allows a child to modify his pronunciation of a specific word and simultaneously correct the stored neural model of that words so that it increasingly reflects the exact pronunciation and spelling of the word.” (p.232) Dr. Shaywitz goes on to say that oral reading should be an integral part of every reading curriculum. This training can take fifteen minutes or less a day.
The more oral practice struggling readers have, the more fluent they will become. As they begin to move past decoding, they will move towards increased comprehension. Oral reading helps develop fluent silent reading skills.
At OnlineReadingTutor™ oral reading fluency is an important part of our student’s training. This training helps our students achieve the goal of fluent, automatic readers with full comprehension.