Reading Fluency

by Evelyn Reiss, Grade 8 Language Teacher

Reading fluency is defined as the ability to read correctly and swiftly. It involves the automatic recognition of words, so that meaning is accessed efficiently and instantly. Fluent readers read with appropriate emphasis and expression. They pause for punctuation where needed and simultaneously decode and comprehend the text being read.

Reading Fluency requires rapid automatic:

  • word recognition
  • phrase recognition
  • conjunction knowledge
  • clause recognition
  • punctuation knowledge

The student should be reading a passage with at least 95% accuracy; otherwise, the passage is too difficult. Multiple readings should only be practiced with passages at the instructional or mastery level.

Independent Reading Level defined as text read at 95% accuracy

Instructional Reading Level defined as text read at 90 – 95% accuracy

Frustration Reading Level defined as text with less than 90% accuracy


Repeated Reading Method

With repeated readings the student builds fluency, which is defined as smooth reading with appropriate intonation and attention to punctuation.

Ask the student to read a passage focusing on a different purpose each time, for example:

  • read and highlight the commas and periods
  • read and highlight selected Sight Words
  • read and highlight conjunctions
  • read and highlight the subject of each sentence
  • now read the whole passage

Chunking/Scooping with Repeated Readings

Break up sentences into short phrases. Practise reading the short phrases before reading the sentence as a whole, for example, Jan ran to the shop can be scooped:

Jan ran       to the shop.


Show the student that intonation and punctuation are linked.

Read the following sentences each with different intonation. Choose a sentence and read it emphasizing a different word each time.

The dog ran.

The dog ran!

The dog ran?

Who is hungry?  I am.


Other strategies that promote reading fluency


  • Student-adult reading: The adult reads the texts and models for the student who then reads the same passage. There can be as much as four readings.
  • Choral reading: Students read in a group.
  • Tape-assisted: Students read along with an audio recording of the text.
  • Paired reading: Students take turns with another student or teacher to read text aloud.
  • Readers Theatre: students read script in order to perform or record dialogue.
  • Tape Recording: Record the student reading a passage several times to demonstrate the improvement in fluency with each repeated reading.