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A Look at Fluent Reading

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Sept. 17, 2010, 5:46 p.m.

Fluency is so much more than a number you get when you do a fluency probe. In fact, the number of words correct per minute relates to the reading rate and proficient readers adjust that rate based on the purpose of the reading.

So what is fluency? Proficient readers demonstrate prosody, which is expression and phrasing of the text, as well as accuracy and reading rate. All four criteria should be considered when gauging a student’s fluent reading behaviors.

Using a rubric for fluency will help you assess specific fluent behaviors, plan appropriate focus lessons, and even assign a grade. Fluent behaviors are listed on the rubric and if the student demonstrates the behavior while reading aloud, a point is given. If the behavior is not demonstrated, a goal is set for the student to develop that behavior. During small group instruction and independent level practice time, the student focuses on mastering the fluent reading behavior(s).

If a grade is needed for reporting fluent reading to parents, then the rubric can be scored and computed for a percentage of behaviors demonstrated. For example, if there are 13 behaviors on the rubric and the student demonstrates 10 out of 13, the fluency grade would be 77%. Remember to consider grade level appropriate text reading when giving a grade for fluency. If the student reads below grade level, it would be expected that he/she would demonstrate more fluent reading behaviors at those levels. If the rubric is being used to obtain a grade that shows how the student performs on grade level texts, then a grade level appropriate text should be used.

You could also add a behavior statement to the rubric that helps you adjust for the below level reading passage. It would state: Reads grade level appropriate text. If the student is reading grade level appropriate text at the time of the assessment, he/she gets a point. If not, no point would be given. So instead of 13 behaviors on the rubric, there would be 14. The students would then get 9 out of 14 (instead of 10 out of 13 mentioned above) and the grade would be a 64%. Here are 2 rubrics ready to use for assessing fluency. 

Happy teaching,
Kelly Harmon



Kelly Harmon and Randi Anderson

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Kelly Harmon & Associates began in 2001 with a mission of instructional coaching and providing rich literacy resources for educators and parents. Our work incorporates research-based best practices for teaching and learning.

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