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1/16/2012 2:56:32 PM
Why is fluency (actual WPM) not a factor in advancing students to the next reading level?
1/18/2012 10:02:18 AM
The Fountas & Pinnell Team
Reading rate (words per minute) is only one aspect of integrated and orchestrated processing of text. Reading rate is a measure of how many words per minute a student reads. Rate is important because it is one indicator of the reader's ability to process text with ease. When the reader processes the print at a satisfactory pace, he is more likely to be able to attend to the meaning of the text. He is also more likely to group words as they are naturally spoken instead of reading one word at a time.
A fluency score reflects how consistently children are interpreting the meaning of the text through their voices. Effective readers put all sources of information together so that their reading sounds fluent and expressive. They read in word groups and stop at punctuation; they stress words in bold and italic type. It is important to think about how the reading sounds.
Fluency is more than rate! Children can read fast, skipping words that they don't know or not slowing down to work on words, almost sounding like they think that it is a race.
Here are some definitions that may help you:
Fluency: The way an oral reading sounds, including phrasing, intonation, pausing, stress, rate, and integration of the first five factors (Note that rate is one of six areas here).
Fluency in reading: To read continuous text with good momentum, phrasing, appropriate pausing, intonation, and stress.
Fluency in word solving: Speed accuracy, and flexibility in solving words.
Rate is one of the six factors of fluency considered in determining a student's reading level. Fountas and Pinnell suggest that you begin to calculate rate at a level J, as students reading at this level have strong control of processing with longer texts, and the information will be more meaningful. At the lower rates, they suggest that you consider rate as a part of the fluency rating. You will find an example of a child's instructional rate that was lowered because of poor fluency scores in your Assessment Guide for Benchmark Assessment on page 43.
The "Six Dimensions of Fluency Rubric" in the Assessment Guide for Benchmark Assessment is on p. 53. This can be used to evaluate the the dimensions of fluency that the reader is demonstrating, as well as those that are being neglected. You will note, once again, that rate is only one of the six dimensions.
You will find an extensive discussion of rate in Teaching for Comprehending and Fluency, as well as in When Readers Struggle. You may also want to refer to your Assessment Guide for the Benchmark Assessment System under the section,"Calculating Reading Rate."
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