Posts Tagged ‘reading fluency practice’

A New Reading Fluency Assessment

Years ago, my favorite elementary principal tasked me, as a freshly-minted reading specialist, to design a new reading fluency assessment for our school. We had been using the Read Naturally® program in our reading intervention lab with some success, but found the placement assessment to be weak and the program too cumbersome to implement as differentiated instruction in teachers’ classrooms. The principal wanted a more effective diagnostic fluency assessment to place students appropriately in a schoolwide fluency program. (I’ll email you the fluency assessment download free of charge at the end of the article.)

A bit of background… Reading scores at her school and throughout the district for grades 4 on up were relatively flat compared to the improving primary scores as a result of implementing science of reading-based instruction. The primary grade teachers were using their reading program narrative text fluencies.

The principal asked me (with the able assistance of 23 fellow district elementary reading specialists) to create a diagnostic fluency assessment that could be used for grades 4 on up. She also wanted the assessment to use an expository text. She had her reasons for these two requirements:

1. Using the same assessment at all grade levels would provide grade to grade data. For example, how might a student perform on the same assessment measure from, say, grades 4 to 5 to 6? Plenty of opportunities for program review!

2. Students in grades 4 on up struggled far more with expository text than narrative text. Of course, the state testing provided more expository at these grade levels than at the primary levels.

I did struggle with her first requirement. In the Read Naturally® program, the Brief Oral Screener helped place students in leveled reading passages. In other words, if a student scored at the lower fourth grade level, that student would practice repeated readings at that level with many passages until graduating to the fifth grade level. Having been trained in the three levels of reading (frustrational, instructional, independent) and Vygotsky’s Zones of Proximal Development, this made perfect sense. Shouldn’t my diagnostic assessment attempt to re-invent, but improve, that same wheel?

“No,” she reasoned. “The students are all expected to read the same texts in their classes from the district-approved literature anthology, history and science textbooks, and class novels, so fluency practice should be on the same text. It’s not the grade level that we need to differentiate for fluency practice; it’s the reading rate.”

I wisely avoided slipping in my additions regarding prosody, inflection, and attention to punctuation. But I did see her point. However, which reading grade level should I choose for the fluency assessment. A fourth grade level would be too easy for a sixth grader and the results would not be reliable indicators of fluency speed and accuracy. Conversely, a sixth grade level might be too challenging for a fourth grader.

I came up with a fluency assessment idea and brainstormed how to construct and implement it with those 23 district elementary reading specialists I mentioned previously.

I designed a fluency assessment that helps teachers observe how well a student reads at different levels of text complexity. I chose an expository text, rather than a narrative, as its text structure, syntax, and vocabulary are more likely to elicit more useful diagnostic data for older reading intervention students.

The Pets Fluency Assessment is leveled in a unique pyramid design: the first paragraph is at the first grade (Fleish-Kincaid) reading level; the second paragraph is at the second grade level… and, lastly, the seventh paragraph is at the seventh grade level. Thus, the reader begins practice at an easier level to build confidence and then moves to more difficult academic language and syntax. As the student reads the fluency passage, the teacher will be able to note the reading levels at which the student has a high degree of accuracy and automaticity.

The 383 word passage permits the teacher to assess two-minute reading fluencies (a much better measurement than a one-minute timing).

With respect to instruction, I’ve found success with two methods, both using expository texts that are designed in the same easy-to-challenging structure and length as the diagnostic. Check out my article, “How to Differentiate Fluency Practice” for useful tips.


Intervention Program Science of Reading

The Science of Reading Intervention Program

The Science of Reading Intervention Program: Word Recognition includes explicit, scripted instruction and practice with the 5 Daily Google Slide Activities every reading intervention student needs: 1. Phonemic Awareness and Morphology 2. Blending, Segmenting, and Spelling 3. Sounds and Spellings (including handwriting) 4. Heart Words Practice 5. Sam and Friends Phonics Books (decodables). Plus, digital and printable sound wall cards and speech articulation songs. Print versions are available for all activities. First Half of the Year Program (55 minutes-per-day, 18 weeks)

The Science of Reading Intervention Program: Language Comprehension resources are designed for students who have completed the word recognition program or have demonstrated basic mastery of the alphabetic code and can read with some degree of fluency. The program features the 5 Weekly Language Comprehension Activities: 1. Background Knowledge Mentor Texts 2. Academic Language, Greek and Latin Morphology, Figures of Speech, Connotations, Multiple Meaning Words 3. Syntax in Reading 4. Reading Comprehension Strategies 5. Literacy Knowledge (Narrative and Expository). Second Half of the Year Program (30 minutes-per-day, 18 weeks)

The Science of Reading Intervention Program: Assessment-based Instruction provides diagnostically-based “second chance” instructional resources. The program includes 13 comprehensive assessments and matching instructional resources to fill in the yet-to-be-mastered gaps in phonemic awareness, alphabetic awareness, phonics, fluency (with YouTube modeled readings), Heart Words and Phonics Games, spelling patterns, grammar, usage, and mechanics, syllabication and morphology, executive function shills. Second Half of the Year Program (25 minutes-per-day, 18 weeks)

The Science of Reading Intervention Program BUNDLE  includes all 3 program components for the comprehensive, state-of-the-art (and science) grades 4-adult full-year program. Scripted, easy-to-teach, no prep, no need for time-consuming (albeit valuable) LETRS training or O-G certification… Learn as you teach and get results NOW for your students. Print to speech with plenty of speech to print instructional components.

SCIENCE OF READING INTERVENTION PROGRAM RESOURCES HERE for detailed product description and sample lessons.

Get the Pets Fluency Assessment FREE Resource:

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