Oral Reading Fluency

January 24, 2019

What is Oral Reading Fluency?
While the definition of oral reading fluency typically focuses on the rate and the correct pronunciation of words, tone and expression need to also be considered when evaluating, discussing, and addressing oral reading fluency.

  • Expression (Intonation) and Volume should be varied and conversational. Students should be able to match their expression and volume to the tone and mood of the reading material. Additionally, punctuation can provide cues for how students should flex their voices.
  • Phrasing, or the ability to chunk words into phrases, is an important aspect of fluent reading. Students should be able to apply expression and volume based on punctuation cues and recognizable clauses in order to read with appropriate and smooth phrasing.
  • Smoothness also combines elements of chunking in that students should be able to read material smoothly, pausing only when appropriate.
  • Pace refers to the rate at which the student reads. While there are several markers and norms, a student’s reading should sound conversational, which means that the appropriate pace for each student may differ.

How Do We Measure Proper Expression?
Timothy Rasinski created what is referred to as the Multidimensional Fluency Scale, which incorporates each of the four fluency elements listed above. This scale provides a method of quantifying fluency skills and progress. Ideally, fluent readers will score within the “4” category in all four of the fluency elements. 

How Do We Measure Proper Expression?
In order to calculate a specific “words correct per minute” score, educators should subtract the number of errors from the total number of words read. If the student has read for a timed minute, this will yield a “words correct per minute” calculation. If the student has read for more than a minute, convert the time to seconds and divide the number of words read correctly by the time in seconds and then multiply by 60. This will yield a “words correct per minute” score. Hasbrouck & Tindal have created a chart of how to measure and compare desired oral reading words correct per minute.

How Does This Connect to Landmark’s Teaching Principles™?
Research continues to emphasize that providing models of fluent reading to students of all ages is one of the best methods for helping students to achieve fluency gains. Educators can model fluent reading by reading aloud to classes or by having students echo modeled sections of reading. This video provides an example of an educator engaging a class of students in a lesson on accuracy and phrasing. This idea of modeling is reflected in Landmark’s fifth Teaching Principle. For the full text of the Landmark Teaching Principles™, including “Provide Models,” click here.

Strategies to Download

Explore potential suggestions for supporting the development of oral reading fluency.


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