Most Commonly Asked Questions

Most Commonly Asked Questions

How do I know if students need help with fluency?

What is reading fluency?
Reading fluency is the ability to read text accurately, quickly and with expression. It has been recognized as one of the five critical areas of reading by the National Reading along with phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary and comprehension.

Why is reading fluency important?
The major reason it is critical is because of the relationship between fluency and comprehension. Numerous studies have examined students’ fluency and their subsequent comprehension. As student fluency increased, there was a subsequent increase in comprehension. There are two other benefits as well. Students who read fluently will choose to read more independently. When reading is not laborious, students often choose to read for pleasure. The advantages of reading are many- vocabulary building and acquisition of increased knowledge among them. Fluent readers will also be better able to complete assignments and homework.This is significant given the amount of reading assigned as students progress through school.

How is reading fluency measured?
Oral reading fluency is measured by listening to a student read for one minute from a grade level unpracticed text and determining the number of correct words read (cwpm). Fluency for beginning reading skills can also be measured by counting the correct number of letter names or sounds.

How do I know if students need help with fluency?
Compare student scores against standardized norms provided by DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) and/or Hasbrouck, J., & Tindal. G. (2005). Oral Reading Fluency Norms Grades 1-8. Table summarized from Behavioral Research & Teaching (2005, January). Oral Reading Fluency: 90 Years of Assessment (BRT Technical Report No. 33), Eugene,OR.

What is the best way to build reading fluency?
The Report of the National Reading Panel found that the following Techniques to be highly effective in developing fluency: Having students read and reread text three to five times or until a certain level of fluency is reached Using audiotapes, tutors or peers for repeated reading practice

Giving feedback to guide the reader’s performance
Two of the many reading fluency programs currently on the market include:

The Six Minute Solution : A Reading Fluency Program by Gail Adams and Sheron Brown ( incorporates the research of repeated reading, progress monitoring and peer assisted learning into a fluency building program in which partners read passages to each other, give feedback and record scores using only 6 minutes of the instructional period once students are trained in the procedure.

Read Naturally by Candyce Ihnot ( an individualized pioneering program which combines teacher modeling, repeated reading and progress monitoring into one strategy which develops the reading fluency of special education, ELL, Title One and mainstream students.

What is the Words for Academic Writing : Vocabulary Across Curricula Program?
Words for Academic Writing is a supplementary vocabulary program designed to teach words frequently encountered in writing assignments. The program provides a research-based format for directly teaching writing vocabulary and offers multiple opportunities for students to both deeply process the meanings of words and to practice using them. Words for Academic Writing is appropriate for general, special education and English as a second language ( ESL) students in grades 4-8 as well as for high school students in intervention programs.

What are “academic words”?
Academic words are those words that are used in the classroom, in textbooks, and often included on tests These words are different from those commonly used outside the classroom in terms of vocabulary, syntax, and grammar. Averil Coxhead ( 2000) from the School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, compiled The Academic Word List This list consists of 570 words that are grouped into ten sub lists based on word frequency in academic tests.

Many English- only students- particularly struggling readers- with large social vocabularies often have trouble understanding words that are specifically used within a school setting. Second language learners develop basic conversational skills well before they become proficient in academic language development. When students do not understand the language of school, they often do not fully comprehend what they have read and have difficulty participating in class discussions and responding appropriately to written assignments.

Why teach academic words?
There is an extensive research base that supports both the need for, and the importance of explicit English vocabulary instruction. A research base also points to a strong correlation between vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension.

Instruction in the use of common academic writing words enables students to more fully understand concepts presented in class, be better prepared to participate in class discussions, and complete written assignments correctly. When students experience academic success, they develop self-confidence and the desire to achieve at higher levels. “Learning academic English is probably one of the surest, most reliable ways of attaining socioeconomic success in the United States today” (Scarcella, 2003)

What is “academic writing”?
Academic writing is analytical writing, the type that is expected in school. The general purpose of academic writing is to present information that demonstrates the writer’s understanding of the subject. The specific purpose of academic writing will vary by assignment, as students may be asked to describe, explain, report or persuade.

There are two basic kinds of writing structure : narrative and expository. Narrative writing is used to tell a story, while expository writing explains, informs or persuades. Expository writing is academic writing and reflects logical thinking. It employs deductive reasoning by stating the main idea and providing examples and details to support the main idea. Expository writing has a formal voice that avoids slang and uses a third-person point of view. The ability to write clearly and accurately about topics in the content areas is a key component to academic success. Students with academic writing skills are able to effectively convey understanding of the inherent vocabulary of their assignment topics.