IRIS | Page 6: Fluency (2023)

Page 6: Fluency

IRIS | Page 6: Fluency (1)Reading fluency refers to an ability to read text with accuracy, speed, and intonation. A fluent reader will exhibit specific characteristics, such as:

  • Well-developed word-recognition skills, allowing the reader to use automatic decoding
  • Reading that sounds effortless and occurs without stumbling over individual words
  • Appropriate expression and inflection, which create a rhythmic flow

Fluency develops over time and with considerable practice. In the Challenge section of this module, you heard both a fluent and a nonfluent reader read a story about Claire. Let’s listen as the readers finish the story.

IRIS | Page 6: Fluency (2)IRIS | Page 6: Fluency (3)IRIS | Page 6: Fluency (4)
Claire runs over to the park. She swings on the swings. She climbs on the monkey bars.But where is Jim? Claire is sad. She goes home.Claire finds Jim! Jim is in Claire’s backyard!

Fluent reader
(time: 0:12).

View Transcript

(Video) How to TRULY become and STAY Fluent in English|The biggest mistake people make when learning English

Nonfluent reader
(time: 1:23).

View Transcript

Transcript: Fluent Reader

Claire runs over to the park. She swings on the swings. She climbs on the monkey bars. But where is Jim? Claire is sad. She goes home. Claire finds Jim. Jim is in Claire’s backyard!

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Transcript: Nonfluent Reader

Cla ire ru roo uns ov

She swings swing swings ins on the s low s low sw-ing sw ings.

Sha She cli imbs the mon the mon the mon key mon key bears.

But where is Jimmy.

Cla ire is said.

She go ez hah hah mm mm ho mm mm.

(Video) Family and Friends 1 ✔ Fluency 2

Cla ire f f fi fi finds Jimmy.

Jimmy is Cla ire’s Cla ire’s bac bac bake bake eek eek a an ard bck ee ard.

er to the pa rk.

Why Should I Teach It?

Studies show that fluency and reading comprehension skills are closely related. Nonfluent readers work so hard at decoding individual words in a sentence that they end up not comprehending what they have read. Difficulty with decoding and sight-word recognition places greater demands on students’ cognitive abilities. Consequently, struggling students are unable to connect one idea to the next, resulting in poor understanding. Due to this poor understanding, these students often find reading unpleasant, and they are unable to adequately participate in reading-based activities in the classroom or at home.

Look at the table below to see the difference fluency makes in comprehension when students read poetry. Poetry is a fun and easy model for demonstrating how a fluent reader should sound. Poems are easy to practice because they are often short and have rhythm.


The back slashes in the stanza indicate where the fluent reader paused while reading. Compare it to the nonfluent reader’s pauses. Try reading the poem using the distinct pauses. Next try reading the poem using a monotone intonation.

Fluent ReaderNonfluent Reader
Eat food/Eat food/What do you eat?Eat/food eat/food What/do/you eat?

As students practice reading out loud, they learn where to pause. For instance, they learn that readers will pause at the end of sentences but also sometimes within a sentence. Students also learn when to alter their emphasis on a word or their tone. This, in turn, helps students understand how to use expression in their voices as they read, augmenting their understanding of the written text. Teachers should offer examples for students to hear and should explain why a text should be read in a certain way.

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How Do I Teach It?

Fluency develops when students practice reading and rereading words, passages, or other texts with a high degree of success. Students should practice reading fluency to increase their decoding and word-recognition skills.

Reading Level

IRIS | Page 6: Fluency (5)Students should not be asked to practice fluency with texts that are likely to be frustrating. Instead, teachers should determine the type of fluency practice each student needs (e.g., letters, sounds, words, sentences, passages).Here’s one method for determining appropriate reading levels:

  1. A student reads a passage aloud for one minute while the teacher counts how many words the student reads incorrectly.
  2. The teacher uses a reading-level guide and the number of errors the student made to determine the student’s reading level.
Reading Level Guide
Independent levelWhen reading, 1 out of 20 words is difficult.
Instructional levelWhen reading, 1 out of 10 words is difficult.
Frustrational levelWhen reading, more than 2 out of 10 words are difficult.

Students at the independent reading level will be able to practice fluency activities alone or with peers. When a student at this level is working with his or her teacher, the fluency practice should be at the instructional level. If reading is at a frustrational level, then the level of text should be made easier. Or, if a student struggles with reading passages, then the passages should be shortened.

Once a teacher has determined a student’s reading ability level, it is important to remember several critical things:

  • Teachers should introduce texts of the appropriate reading level.
  • Immediate corrective feedback is necessary during fluency practice.
  • Teachers can model fluent and nonfluent reading.
  • Practicing fluency skills allows students to apply the aspects of fluent reading (rate, accuracy, and intonation) as demonstrated by the teacher.

Research Shows

  • Students who have developed automaticity can quickly process high-frequency words and can decode new words rapidly.
    (Chard, Vaughn, & Tyler, 2002)
  • Forty-four percent of fourth graders in America cannot read fluently.
    (Osborn, Lehr, & Hiebert, 2003)

When Should I Teach It?

Fluency instruction typically begins during the second half of first grade and continues through the third grade and beyond.

Instructional Techniques

Teachers can use different instructional techniques for teaching fluency. With fluency instruction, teachers can help students understand that their reading should sound like natural speech, which should be quick, accurate, and with expression.

(Video) ICAO Level 6 ( Fluency)

Below are samples of fluency techniques.

Fluency Activities
IRIS | Page 6: Fluency (6)

The boxes below include examples to view.

Click IRIS | Page 6: Fluency (7) (below) to see examples of fluency activities.

Click IRIS | Page 6: Fluency (8) (below) to watch a teacher instructing students on fluency.

“Copyright © by the Texas Education Agency and University of Texas at Austin. All rights reserved” on all Licensed Materials.

Repeated Reading

A student reads the same passage multiple times until fluency is achieved.

Using Technology

A student uses a computer or other equipment, such as a tape recorder, to assist with fluency.

Repeated Reading

IRIS | Page 6: Fluency (13)Instruct the students to read a relatively short text (50 words) each day for a week, and then ask them to graph their own progress. Many students will be encouraged by the visible improvement in their reading rates. If a student doesn’t seem to be improving, consider reviewing unfamiliar words with him or her before beginning each timed reading. Be sure to offer feedback on incorrect words, skipped words, and long pauses. Peers, parents, and other helpers can also provide this type of feedback. Allow students to move to another passage only after they have reached a predetermined level of fluency.

Materials: Give each student a level-appropriate text, a timer, graphing paper, and markers.


  • Remind students that they will be practicing their reading speed and give a brief example of fluent reading.
  • Determine where students should begin and stop reading each day.
  • Time the students as they read.
  • Allow the students to graph their own times, adding one second to the totals for each misread word.

(Close this panel)

Repeated Reading

(time: 1:23)

We found several interesting and engaging approaches to repeated reading. At North Bridge Elementary in Westlaco, the morning announcements are presented by students and broadcast to classrooms. Even first graders get to take on a role.

Student: And the top of the morning to you. My name is “Amiable Alice.” We are looking forward to a marvelous day. We would like to begin with a pledge and school song.

Narrator: As you can see, this student’s fluency is well developed. She benefits from the extra practice getting ready for the school news.

Student: “Please, will you help me weed the garden?”

Student: “Not I, not I. The mud is too cool to weed.”

Narrator: North Ridge students perform a readers’ theater for the school news cast. Readers’ theater is a fun and effective way to engage first graders in repeated readings. Children read through the story several times. They may practice their own part at home or with a teacher’s help.

Student: “So the little red hen weeded and tended the garden all by herselves.”

Teacher: That’s the end of Scene 2. Stay tunes for Scenes 3 and 4 next week.

Narrator: The successful performance provides students with a sense of accomplishment.

(Close this panel)

Using Technology

IRIS | Page 6: Fluency (14)Play tape recordings of a fluent reader reading the selected text for the entire class (or for small groups). If multiple students are reading aloud in an area, ask them to read quietly or to mouth the words without actually speaking to avoid disturbing others.

Materials: Give each student a copy of the independent-level reading material, a cassette recording of a fluent and expressive reading of the material, a tape player, and earphones (if necessary).


  • Tell students to listen to the reading, track the print, and read along silently with the tapes.
  • Play the tapes and make sure the students follow along and take note of the speed and expression of the fluent reading.
  • Discuss the rate and expression of the reader on the tapes, replaying sections where the reader changes pitch or intonation.
  • Read the material aloud as a group without the tapes, maintaining the same rate and expression used on the tapes.

(Close this panel)

Using Technology

(time: 0:11)

Books on CD-ROM allow children to hear an example of fluent reading and to read along with the story over and over. Tape-recorded stories offer a similar method for fluency building.

(Close this panel)

Choral Reading

The class or group reads out loud along with the teacher.

Partner Reading

Students are paired to practice reading and rereading.

Choral Reading

IRIS | Page 6: Fluency (19)Begin by encouraging students to listen to your voice and to mimic your expression as they read. The text should be interesting to the students and should lend itself to expressive reading. You may wish to consider choosing a story that students can read during the course of a week, in order to maintain their interest.

Materials: Provide each student with a copy of the selected text.


  • Ask students to place the reading material in front of them and to get ready to read along.
  • Instruct the students to read out loud with you as you read the text. Be sure to read with speed, accuracy, and expression.
  • You might want to check students’ performance by having them take turns sitting beside you, or you might want to move throughout the room to listen to individual students.

(Close this panel)

Choral Reading

(time: 0:20)

Teacher: Finger there, ready, begin.

Teacher and students: “I went walking. What did you see?”

Narrator: Houston teacher Bruce Deagon engages the class in choral reading and at the same time monitors each student’s progress. The children take turns sitting near the teacher, reading a page at a time.

Students: “I went walking.”

(Close this panel)

Partner Reading

IRIS | Page 6: Fluency (20)If students are not ready to read texts aloud on their own, you can begin partner-reading activities using word cards. These cards help students to build speed and accuracy with word recognition, but it is important to choose words that students can read quickly in order to keep the focus on fluency skills. Students will be encouraged to see their speed and accuracy increase through the use of the word cards.

Materials: Give each student one set of word cards printed with 20 to 25 familiar words, a timer, a pencil, and a piece of paper numbered 1 to 5.


  • Clarify any unfamiliar words before beginning.
  • Ask the partners to take turns being readers and helpers. The helper will have one minute to show the reader the cards (one at a time for a maximum of three seconds per card). If the reader misreads a word, the helper will place the card facedown on the table. When the reader reads a word correctly, the helper will give that card to the reader. If the reader reads all the cards with time left, the helper should reassemble the cards and begin again.
  • After the helper has timed the reader for one minute, the reader counts the number of cards he or she is holding and writes that number beside the 1 on the paper.
  • The students then review any of the words the reader missed.
  • The partners switch roles and repeat the steps above. The process is continued until each student has been a reader five times.

(Close this panel)

Partner Reading

(time: 1:04)

Narrator: Rereading text is an effective fluency-building strategy. There are a variety of activities that engage students with fluency practice.

Boy (reading): “Hooray! I could go with my brother to the park and sail my own boat.”

Narrator: Partner reading is one way teachers may group more proficient readers with less proficient ones. The more able reader begins, and the partner then rereads the same passage. It’s important to work with students, teaching them how to be supportive reading partners.

Girl (reading): “On Monday, Fox and Millie went to the fair. ‘Let’s have our picture taken,’ said Fox. ‘Oh, yes, let’s do,’ said Millie.”

Second girl (reading): “On Monday, F-Fox and…Millie went to the fair. ‘Let’s have our pic…picture taken,’ said Fox. ‘Oh, yes, let’s do,’ said…Millie.”

Girl (reading): ” ‘Click’ went the camera and out came the pictures.”

Second girl (reading): “‘Click’ went the camera and out went the camera.”

Girl: “Came.”

Second girl (reading): “Came…the…camera.”

Girl: “Picture.”

Second girl: “Picture.”

(Close this panel)

Echo Reading

The class or group reads out loud along with the teacher.

Echo Reading

IRIS | Page 6: Fluency (23)Have students listen as you model fluency and expression. Let the students imitate your reading, using texts that are interesting to them.

Materials: Provide each student with a copy of the selected text.


  • Read a sentence aloud, modeling how it should be read.
  • Ask the students to echo aloud that same sentence.
  • Give corrective and immediate feedback.

(Close this panel)

Echo Reading

(time: 0:16)

Student 1: “All the animals were fast asleep.”

Student 2: “All the animals were fast asleep.”

Student 1: “Except for Elephant.”

Student 2: “Except for Elephant.”

Student 1: “He had the hiccups.”

Student 2: “He had the hiccups.”

Student 1: “Hiccup!”

Student 2: “Hiccup!”

(Close this panel)

Here are some helpful hints for incorporating reading fluency instruction in the classroom.

Tips for Teaching
  • Keep in mind that being able to decode words is not enough for students to master fluency.
  • Students must be able to decode words effortlessly and even to recognize sight-words automatically.
  • Emphasize and model speed, accuracy, and expression.
  • Provide opportunities for students to identify whether your reading sounds natural or unnatural.
  • Provide fluency practice, and help students to either choose reading material at their independent or instructional level or else provide them with this material.
  • Ask students to provide an example of a sentence read with speed, accuracy, and expression.
  • Determine whether the students understand the fluency terms speed, accuracy, and expression.
  • Reteach any concepts that the students do not understand.
  • Motivate and encourage independent reading among students.
  • Match students’ reading levels to the appropriate text levels.
  • Practice reading and rereading text.


How much gain in fluency is reasonable? ›

For improvement in fluency scores, experts have determined that tacking on between one and two WCPM per week is a reasonable expectation. Honestly, a weekly improvement of two WCPM is excellent; recognize that students may not be able to sustain that kind of improvement over a long period of time.

What should be the fluency of a 6th grader? ›

By the end of 6th grade, students should be able to fluently and correctly read approximately 160 words per minute.

How fluent should a 1st grader read? ›

By December, most first graders can read 50 words correct per minute. And by the end of the school year, children should be reading 70 words per minute.

How do you score a fluency assessment? ›

Reading fluency is calculated by taking the total number of words read in one minute and subtracting the number of errors. Only count one error per word. This gives you the words correct per minute (wpm). The words correct per minute represent students' fluency levels.

What is a good fluency goal for IEP? ›

The experts generally agree that fluency should be measured on text that a student can read independently with 95% accuracy and a Words Correct Per Minute (WCPM) between the 50-75th percentile for the student's grade level.

How many years does it take to develop fluency? ›

The next and most accurate answer is that it can take anywhere between three months to two years to learn how to speak, write, and read in a new language fluently.


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