Sunday, January 18, 2015

Does Repeated Reading Improve Fluency and Comprehension for Struggling Adolescent Readers?

Kristine Lynn Still and Christine A. Flynt looked into reading interventions for adolescents in their article, Does Repeated Reading Improve Fluency and Comprehension for Struggling Adolescent Readers? from JAASEP Winter 2012. The vast majority of fluency research focuses on the elementary reader where we believe that reading fluency should develop. For many struggling readers, however, fluency is not achieved in the early grades. The authors tried to clarify often conflicting research results by examining the impact of repeated reading on ninth and tenth grade struggling readers as it relates to fluency and comprehension.

Twelve weeks of intervention were used to see if student fluency and comprehension could be addressed with repeated readings. Overall, they found that fluency definitely improved regarding the repeatedly read passages which were significantly below grade level. There was not a large transfer to grade appropriate passages. Half the group had significant increases in comprehension as measured by Lexile  increases. Students in small group resource setting had a higher increase in comprehension than those who came from co-taught classes. Reading comprehension and fluency were not reliably linked in responding to the intervention. What did significantly improve, while not an original study objective, was student motivation as a result of graphing results.

The authors concluded that small group reading instruction was more effective than co-taught English classes for increasing reading comprehension and consequently should not be eliminated from the menu of interventions available at the high school level. They concluded that graphing of progress was motivational and that many students responded to repeated reading positively.

The authors did look at the student characteristics that led some students to be more successful than others. Not surprisingly they found that "hard workers who gave 100% effort on a daily basis" had more positive outcomes than those who "struggled with staying on task and completing the repeated reading method accurately and efficiently" (p. 165).

What this means to me as a practitioner is that we need to maintain careful records of progress to determine if proscribed interventions are effective and, as Marzano, points out, student maintained records of progress are effective at increasing motivation. Further, while repeated reading may increase reading skill, if students are not finding success, they need different interventions. We also need to recognize that effective interventions are implemented on a regular and intense basis. The authors worked with the students on a daily basis. We rarely see reading interventions at the high school level being used with that amount of frequency.

One of the useful items in the appendix is chart of National Oral Reading Fluency Benchmarks. I have copied the high school standards which I have not seen anywhere else.

Fluency (wpm Norms)
GE reading level

They demonstrate the increase in fluency across the high school level as a small percentage improvement, especially relative to those at other grade levels. For ninth grade it is only a 6.7% increase over the course of the year, whereas the increase for fourth grade is a 20 % increase. When we think of Lexiles this is an interesting thought. When they reworked the Lexile bands in response to the Common Core, they made a more even distribution of increase in level of complexity per band: 4-5, 210 points, stretch range- 270; 6-8, 150 points, stretch range- 260; 9-10, 160 points, stretch range- 285 and 11-12, 150 points, stretch range- 200. If we only expect a small increase in reading rate at this level, what research exists to support a steady increase in reading comprehension level?

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