The standards within the Reading Foundational Skills strand are directed toward fostering students’ understanding and working knowledge of concepts of print, the alphabetic principle, and other basic conventions of the English writing system. These foundational skills are not an end in and of themselves; rather, they are necessary and important components of an effective, comprehensive reading program designed to develop proficient readers with the capacity to comprehend texts across a range of types and disciplines.

Fluency is defined as being able to read orally with a reasonable rate of speed, with a high degree of accuracy, and with the proper expression (prosody). Fluency is one of several critical factors necessary for reading comprehension.

The word automatic is often used synonymously with fluency, but they are not the same. Automaticity refers only to accurate, speedy word recognition, not to reading with expression. Therefore, automaticity (or automatic word recognition) is necessary, but not sufficient, for fluency.

Fluency changes, depending on what readers are reading, their familiarity with the words, and the amount of their practice with reading text. Even very skilled readers may read in a slow, labored manner when reading texts with many unfamiliar words or topics. For example, readers who are usually fluent may not be able to read technical material fluently, such as a textbook about nuclear physics or an article in a medical journal. (Partnership for Reading, 2001)

The National Reading Panel concluded that repeated and monitored oral reading procedures improve reading fluency and overall reading achievement.

Kindergarteners develop fluency by reading decodable and other emergent reader text at their level.

First and second graders continue to grow in their ability to read on-level text orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings. They must be able to read those on-level texts with purpose and understanding. Children in these grades are expected to use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding,

Third grade students should be able to read on-level prose and poetry with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings. They, too, must demonstrate they can read on-level text with purpose and understanding and use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding,

Watch this Video: Pacing

Teacher illustrates pacing of reading text to students through clapping to sounds of nursery rhymes.
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Associated Standards (kindergarten, first grade, and second grade)

CCSS RF. K.4: Read emergent-reader texts with purpose and understanding.
CCSS RF.1.4, CCSS RF.2.4 and CCSS RF.3.4: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

Scaffolded Ideas

  • Fluency develops over time and with practice.
  • The ability to decode accurately and quickly (automaticity) is necessary for fluency development.
  • Students who are not fluent are unable to efficiently read texts across a wide range of difficulty and disciplines.
  • The inability to read fluently is a serious barrier to understanding what is read (comprehension) in both narrative and expository texts of increasing complexity and sophistication.
  • Lack of fluency leads to frustration and negatively impacts the quality and quantity of what is read. This, in turn, limits vocabulary and concept development.

Questions to Focus Instruction

  • What roles do phonics and vocabulary play in the development of fluency?
  • Can students who struggle with basic phonics (decoding) skills develop fluency?
  • What strategies work the best to support students becoming fluent readers?
  • Can fluency be improved by having children devote more time to independent reading?

Watch this Video

Explicit Instruction

Teacher uses modeling, specific examples, pre-reading, and questions to show students how a fluent reader reads.