Sometimes a student doesn't do particularly well on a fluency test and becomes eligible for intervention services, but we don't feel there is truly a reading issue. When considering fluency, there are three important ideas to keep in mind.
- When a student becomes an in-the-head reader and we ask them to read aloud for an assessment, they may find it difficult to do so. Their accuracy, fluency, and even comprehension can be negatively affected.Think about yourself as a reader. Do you read faster aloud or silently? If something like this shows up when we assess an in-the-head reader, we have them read silently and then check their comprehension.
- Humans can read only as fast as they can speak. This can greatly affect a child's fluency score. So if you have a child with slow speech, know that their fluency score will not surpass their normal speech pattern.
- Oftentimes, fluency is merely an indicator that there is something else going on. For example, if a child is having a difficult time comprehending what they are reading, they may find themselves backing up and rereading, pausing and even stopping their reading to think and consider. If this is the case, the low fluency score is a result of comprehension challenges.
In each of these cases, we would not want to focus on fluency instruction as our starting point. Instead, we would determine if the root of the problem is comprehension, accuracy, or vocabulary.