Fluency Assessment Consists of collecting information about students’ oral reading accuracy, rate, and prosody; Provides an overall estimate of a student’s reading proficiency; Is a strong predictor of success in reading comprehension; Is a key to preventing reading difficulties; Provides information to guide instruction and improve student outcomes.
Assessment of Oral Reading Fluency The combination of oral reading rate and accuracy is the oral reading fluency (ORF). The assessment tool that is used most for measuring ORF is Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM). ORF CBM provides a reliable and valid way to identify students who are at risk for reading failure; identify which students are not making adequate progress given the instruction they receive; identify students’ instructional level; identify which students need additional diagnostic re- evaluation.
Administering an Oral Reading Fluency CBM Assessment The student reads for one minute from an unpracticed, grade-level passage. The teacher follows along with a copy of the passage and marks any student errors. The ORF is determined by subtracting the number of errors from the total number of words read. This is expressed as words correct per minute (WCPM). To monitor progress, the scores can be recorded on a graph. The graph’s visual form is helpful in interpreting the scores and in helping students see their growth.
Oral Reading Fluency Performance Expectations One way to set standards for fluency performance is to compare students’ ORF scores to the National norm. National norms provide WCPM scores for students in grades 1-8 during three different assessment time periods a year. (fall, winter, spring) The norms are listed as percentile scores. (90,75, 50, 25, and 10) These norms can help indicate whether a student’s fluency growth meets grade-level expectations or is increasing at a normal rate.
Diagnosis of Dysfluent Reading Teachers must gather more in-depth information to determine the area of weakness that is causing the fluency problem. Common causes of dysfluency include deficits in phonemic awareness, decoding, vocabulary, language syntax, and content knowledge. A “speed-accuracy” trade off occurs when students slow down because they are too concerned with accuracy; make many mistakes in an attempt to read text too quickly.
Assessment of Prosodic Reading Unlike rate and accuracy, prosody is more difficult to measure reliably, but it is often important to assess. To measure prosodic reading, the teacher listens to a student orally read an independent-level passage and then compares the characteristics of the student’s prosodic reading to a rating scale or rubric. Prosodic reading rubrics may include stress, phrasing, intonation, expression, pauses, attention to punctuation, etc.
When to Assess Except for first grade, students should be screened at the beginning of the year and monitored three times a year. (fall, winter, and spring) Monitoring for those not making adequate progress should be at least one or two times a month. Less is known about the usefulness of ORF screening and monitoring of adolescent students. The average levels of oral reading fluency stabilize at around 150 WC for students at the end of 6 th -8 th grades, when reading grade level texts.
ORF and Upper Grade Students Some researchers believe that Maze CBM may be a better predictor of upper-grade students’ future reading performance than ORF CBM. In Maze CBM, a student reads a passage silently rather than aloud; at about every seventh word the student must choose the word that makes the most sense in the sentence from a group of three possible words. This cloze type assessment appears to be slightly more valid than ORF for its relationship to comprehension.