Academic journal article Reading Improvement

A Review of Fixed Fluency Criteria in Repeated Reading Studies

Academic journal article Reading Improvement

A Review of Fixed Fluency Criteria in Repeated Reading Studies

Article excerpt


Introduced in the early 1970s, repeated reading has a history of helping students build oral reading fluency spanning almost 40 years. Participants in original repeated reading studies had to meet specific reading rates (i.e., fluency criteria) before considering a passage complete. Since its inception, researchers have employed different fixed reading fluency criteria for a variety of reasons. The current literature review examines fluency criteria origins and rates and subsequent reading outcomes. Results uncovered three distinct groupings of fluency criteria: researcher/teacher imposed, norm/grade-level referenced, and behavioral fluency rates. Repeated reading goal rates ranged from 30 to 210 correct words per minute with some requiring students to make less than a specific number of incorrects per minute (range 2-10) or simply focusing on words per minute (i.e., combining correct and incorrect words read). As a result of repeated reading to a fluency criterion, students demonstrated fluency improvement with the highest rates hovering around the fluency criterion used. Future directions for research follow a discussion focusing on the different components and effects of various repeated reading goal rates.

Keywords: decoding fluency, reading fluency criteria, repeated reading, review, reading practice


Once neglected, oral reading fluency has received increased attention from the educational community (Allington, 1983; Kubina & Morrison, 2000; National Reading Panel, 2000; Pikulski & Chard, 2005). While fluency in general has steadily acquired import in reading, some variations occur with the definition. Definitions of reading fluency include the ability to read quickly, accurately, and with expression while other definitions emphasize speed and accuracy of reading (Kuhn, Schwanenflugel, Meisinger, Levy, & Rasinski, 2012). Focusing only on reading speed and accuracy (i.e., decoding fluency) provides a simple, observable measure for educators and researchers (Archer, Gleason, & Vachon, 2003). While reading research offers slight differences in the definition of fluency, uniform agreement surrounds the benefit of reading fluency. Notably, a student's ability to read fluently provides a quality measure of overall reading ability (Fuchs, Fuchs, Hosp, & Jenkins, 2001).

The National Reading Panel (2000) categorized fluency as an essential component when reviewing reading. Based on available research, the Panel found that students improve oral reading fluency to a greater extent with systematic, guided practice, rather than independent sustained silent reading or encouraging students to read more. In addition, students across grade levels participating in guided practice enhanced both word recognition and comprehension (National Reading Panel, 2000). Many researchers and teachers have used a guided, explicit practice method identified by the Panel and other research summaries as effective for developing oral reading fluency, repeated reading.

Origin and Theory of Repeated Reading

Repeated reading originated from the work of Dahl (1974), Chomsky (1976), and Samuels (1979). Rather than focusing on beginning readers, Dahl hypothesized ways to improve intermediate level readers; students who could decode printed text, but read slowly. During repeated reading, students practiced reading a single grade-level passage many times until reaching a criterion (i.e., 100 words per minute). Once attained, students initiated the process anew with an additional grade-level passage. Dahl surmised that students' needed to focus their attention on small amounts of reading, rather than spread their practice among many different passages. Her results indicated that as students increased their reading rate, they subsequently improved their reading accuracy. Dahl further conjectured intense practice would facilitate another important outcome. …

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