Monday, February 2, 2015

Best Practices in Reading Fluency

Anne C. Chambers's Master's Thesis Best Practices in Reading Fluency 2010, explains a research project she conducted with fourth and fifth grade students who received small group reading support. Her multi-chapter thesis explains the problem her school was having with reading performance, background research on fluency, examination of four programs and implementation of her selected program. Ms. Chambers chose to use Rasinski, Padak, Linek and Sturtevant's Fluency Development Lesson (1994). She implemented the intervention between September and March (seven months).

This lesson design includes
  • modeling- teacher reads and highlights features that make the text "come alive" (p. 41).
  • assisted reading- choral reading
  • repeated reading
  • performance reading
  • word study
  • home and school involvement- passages were sent home to be practiced.
The author started with prose passages but moved to poetry which students found more motivating. Students particularly enjoyed You Read to Me, I'll Read to You texts by Mary Ann Hoberman, which are presented to be read by divided groups. Interventions were three days per week, for half an hour per session.

Over the course of the intervention the five target students made a year's growth in comprehension and reading rate increased between .9% and 36%. According to survey data, the students were more willing to read orally in a group. These result are consistent with research that students improve more in comprehension when fluency is focused upon.  It would be interesting to see if there were any indicators that could lend some insight to why one student did so well while another made such little progress. Curiously, the author cites the reason for focusing on fluency is a drop in state test scores, but does not specifically reference any such scores for her subjects in her paper.

Although these results are positive, and students made more progress than in previous years, some progress remained very slow. Increasing the intensity of the intervention might have been warranted.

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