Reading Strategies: Reading Fluency and Comprehension

Reading strategies reading fluency and comprehensionMany definitions of reading fluency include only rate, accuracy, and expression. However, we prefer to include comprehension in our definition because, without understanding, reading becomes only word calling. Reading fluency is usually assessed looking at accuracy and rate, but it involves more than just these two components. Without comprehension, reading becomes only rapid word calling of the text. A child can read with complete accuracy and rate and still not understand because of a lack of focus on phrasing and meaning.

For twelve years we consulted in schools, Prek-12, where we helped teachers implement reading strategies that combined reading comprehension with appropriate accuracy, rate, and expression. As a part of that implementation, we individually assessed the reading of approximately 2000 students, listening to each student read several passages to us.

As an example, when we asked the students after reading a passage what it was about, they couldn’t tell us. They said they couldn’t remember what they had read. One student who read the text easily was actually surprised that we thought she should be able to remember what she had read. For example, she read a passage about volcanos with expression and accuracy. However, all she remembered about the passage was that it was about volcanos.

Your child should be reading with both fluency and understanding. When we include understanding in a definition of reading fluency, it puts a focus on comprehension as the purpose for fluent reading.

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