Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Assisting Low-Performing Readers with a Group-Based Reading Fluency Intervention

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Assisting Low-Performing Readers with a Group-Based Reading Fluency Intervention

Article excerpt

Abstract. Nearly 40% of America's fourth-grade students are below the basic level in reading. Creating opportunities for practice to build reading accuracy and speed (i.e., fluency) is an important link between word decoding and passage comprehension. The purpose of this study was to combine several empirically validated reading interventions into an instructional package that could be used with small groups of children to increase oral reading fluency. Effects of the instructional package were evaluated with 12 third-grade students using a multiple-baseline design across groups. Findings suggested that students read more words correct per minute on trained passages and completed maze comprehension passages with higher accuracy and fluency. In addition, students made statistically significant gains over time on nonpracticed passages of varying grade levels, on word lists containing both "trained" and untrained words, and on subtests from a commonly used standardized educational assessment tool. Implications for the use of a group-based intervention, limitations of the study, and directions for future research are discussed.

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Although learning to read is critical for success in our society, large numbers of students continue to have difficulty acquiring basic literacy skills. For example, the Committee on the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998) reported that approximately 3.5% of U.S. schoolchildren receive services for a reading disability. This equates to over 2 million children nationwide, and roughly 80% of those who are classified with a learning disability. In their most recent evaluation of students' reading achievement at Grade 4, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES, 2004) reported that 37% of children read below the basic level. This percentage has been relatively consistent over the past 10 years, and 26% of these students still do not read at a basic level by the eighth grade (NCES, 2004).

Snow and colleagues (1998) summarized research concerning the sequence of skills that children develop on their way to becoming proficient readers. In kindergarten, children should be able to identify letters and have a basic understanding of sound-symbol relationships, or phonological awareness. Providing explicit instruction in phonological awareness skills, building a sight-word vocabulary, and developing phonics skills should be the focus at Grade 1. In Grade 2, students continue to expand their sight-word vocabulary and begin to build reading fluency, defined as accurate and rapid reading of connected text. Fluency building is a primary focus in Grade 3, at which time strategies for deriving meaning from text (i.e., comprehension strategies) are introduced. Assuming adequate development of these prerequisite skills, reading instruction at Grade 4 should focus on continued fluency building and comprehension.

Once students achieve a certain level of competence in phonological awareness and sight-word recognition, it is clear that they need sufficient practice to build reading fluency (Chard, Vaughn, & Tyler, 2002). Many students who exhibit reading problems at Grades 3 and 4 have difficulty reading connected text with sufficient accuracy and speed for comprehension (i.e., exhibit poor reading fluency; Chard et al., 2002). Further, reading fluency has been described as an important link between word recognition and passage comprehension, as fluency is considered essential for comprehension and word recognition is essential for fluency (Carnine, Silbert, Kame'enui, & Tarver, 2004). Fluency is also related to the concept of automaticity (Kuhn & Stahl, 2003; LaBerge & Samuels, 1974); practicing the mechanics of reading to high fluency levels (e.g., processing letter-sound correspondences rapidly) is believed to allow the reader to devote more cognitive resources to comprehension (Carnine et al., 2004). …

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