Tackling Reading Fluency Issues

A National Reading Panel report that identified fluency as "a critical component of skilled reading," has inspired teachers across the country to make reading fluency a critical part of teaching and assessing students. Many teachers have turned to Jan Hasbrouck, Ph.D., a nationally known educational consultant, researcher, and trainer, for the best advice on how to improve their students' fluency.

Dr. Hasbrouck defined fluency as the ability to read with appropriate speed, accuracy, and good expression. "Fluency is now understood to be a unique and fundamental component of skilled, proficient reading because of its close link to comprehension and motivation," she said. "Elementary students who struggle with fluency will most likely have difficulty understanding what they have read. These students will also be much less likely to read for pleasure and enjoyment."

An expert in differentiated instruction and assessment as well as fluency, Dr. Hasbrouck is an author of California Treasures, a new research-based elementary reading and language arts program meeting all California state standards for Grades K-6.

Dr. Hasbrouck's contributions to the program include methods for assessing a student's reading ability. She has successfully identified three different roles for fluency assessments: screening, diagnosis, and progress monitoring.

Screening assessments determine which students may need further assistance with reading by comparing their oral reading fluency score to a benchmark. "Listening to a student read out loud for one minute from an unpracticed grade-level text can tell a teacher a lot about the student's ability," she says.

Dr. Hasbrouck advises teachers that, once they have determined that a student is likely having problems with reading, it is important to determine what is causing the problem. She recommends diagnostic assessments to determine a student's strengths and weaknesses in phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

"For example, if a Grade 5 student is reading at a Grade 3 level, we could assess their fluency using unpracticed passages of Grade 3 text," she says. "That score can then be compared to benchmark scores of other Grade 3 students to determine if the student's fluency is on track for that student's level of skill development."

Once differentiated instruction has been implemented, Dr. Hasbrouck recommends weekly or bi-monthly one-minute assessments of oral reading fluency using unpracticed passages at a student's instructional level to help the teacher evaluate the effectiveness of instruction.

Dr. Hasbrouck will delve further into this topic when she presents "Reading Fluency: Put This Key Skill In Perspective" at the California Reading Association's annual conference in October. She will address research findings on the role of fluency in reading and how it fits into a comprehensive reading program.

California Treasures is a comprehensive reading and language arts program that includes differentiated instruction, an English language development program, writing support, and classroom management resources.

Source: http://www.macmillanmh.com/