Posts Tagged appropriate use of phrasing and expression to convey meaning

Assessing Accuracy and Fluency – Helping a Child Grow in Early Reading Skills

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There are FIVE BIG IDEAS involved in learning to read.

These FIVE BIG IDEAS are:
 
Phonemic Awareness
Alphabetic Principle
Accuracy/Fluency 
Vocabulary
Comprehension.

This Article on Phonics will discuss the third of THE BIG FIVE – Accuracy and Fluency. 

ACCURACY AND FLUENCY IN READING are vital skills for our children to possess. 

The folks at Candy 4WAY Phonics recognize that a reading program must include every essential step to achieve those crucial abilities. 

In order for our children to survive in this fast-paced, high-tech society, they must be able to look at a page of text and easily read all the words printed, completely understand all the material presented, accurately draw conclusions from all the facts given, and comprehensively make inferences from all the details specified. 

An accurate and fluent reader should have the ability to read selected text accurately, smoothly, effortlessly, and with appropriate expression and meaning.

The goal of attaining accuracy and fluency in reading is:  to learn to read through the words on a page easily and smoothly in order to increase the likelihood of understanding the meaning of the words.  

The National Reading Panel (Berninger et al., 2006) found that the following sequence of steps are necessary to lead students into fluency and onto comprehension:

Step 1) Phonemic Awareness 
Step 2) Phonics 
Step 3) Fluency 
Step 4) Vocabulary 
Step 5) Comprehension

However, there is a difference between assessing a student’s accuracy and fluency in reading and improving a student’s accuracy and fluency in reading.  Many teachers, for example, believe that practicing repetitive reading passages does both. 

For example, many teachers believe that having a child practice repetitive reading on the same selected text over and over and over again will help a child to read more fluently.  In turn, after the child has practiced a particular reading passage, teachers record the student’s rate of speed and use that rate assessment to determine the child’s reading fluency. 

In reality, though, having a child repeat the same text over and over again in order to gain speed:
a) does not assess that student’s overall reading accuracy
b) does not assess that student’s overall reading fluency
c) does not improve that student’s overall reading accuracy
d) does not improve that student’s overall reading fluency

 

What’s do I mean when I say “overall” accuracy and fluency in reading? 

Let’s take a child, for instance, who has been taught to read using the look-and-say reading approach.  If his teacher gives him the words:  baseball, hockey, run, game, and win, and asks him to read those words over and over and over again,  he will, indeed, be able to read those words faster and faster with less and less effort and more and more smoothly.

However, tomorrow when that child encounters the words: sports, athletics, sprint, competition, and  succeed, unless he has learned to sound out words from left to right, he won’t have a clue what those words are, and he will not be able to read them smoothly and effortlessly.

Reading a selected text over and over again will enable a child to learn phrasing, to follow punctuation marks in order to know when to pause and when to stop, and to gain a great knowledge of what a complete sentence “sounds like.” However, there is so much more needed in order for a child to attain accuracy and fluency in his reading.  There are at least four more skills necessary in order to attain strong accuracy and fluency in reading. 

First, a child must have the skills to approach words he has never seen before and to read those new words correctly

Second, the child must be given the opportunity to read a wide variety of printed forms on a regular basis. 

Third, the child must be exposed to greater and greater numbers of complex words and phrases.  

Fourth, the child must be given opportunities to read aloud selections in order to defend a thought or opinion he may have about that selection during a discussion. 

Most reading assessments for accuracy and fluency are performed on a weekly basis using material at the child’s grade level.  However, if we were to be more than generous in assessing a child’s ability to read accurately and fluently, we could take both a third grade look/n/say reading student and a third grade phonics-first reading student and assess their reading accuracy and fluency using reading material they each studied two previous school years ago (in the first grade).

If we did that, though,  we would soon see that there is a stark difference in the number of complex connective words and phrases contained in the sentences that each of these two types of students read during their first grade school year.

Let’s take a look at this sharp disparity between the words found in a first grade look/n/say story reader and the words found in a first grade phonics-first story reader by viewing text selections taken from both. Upon close examination, it becomes obvious that the measure of accuracy and fluency for a look/n/say reader is far behind the measure of accuracy and fluency for a phonics-first reader.

 

FIRST, here is the type of first-grade text that a well-trained look/n/say reader at the end of his third grade year should easily be able to read with accuracy, smoothness, and little effort.  The following paragraphs were taken from a first grade look/n/say story reader:

“Morris the Moose wanted candy.  He went to the wrong store. The man in the store said, “We don’t sell candy. Can’t you read?”

Then he showed Morris the candy store.  The man in the candy store said, “What would you like?”

Morris looked at the candy.  He liked the gumdrops.  He said, “Give me some of those.”

The man said, “They are one for a penny.  How much money do you have?”

Morris looked.  He had six pennies.  “I have four pennies,” he said.

The man laughed. “You have six!  Can’t you count?  Don’t you go to school?”

Morris asked, “What is school?”

 

SECOND, here is the type of first-grade text that a well-trained phonics-first reader at the end of his third grade year should easily be able to read with accuracy, smoothness, and little effort.  The following paragraphs were taken from a first grade phonics-first story reader:

“Little Sammy Saver trusted in the wise saying of:  A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned.

At the first of each week, Sammy Saver collected one hundred pennies. He collected those pennies as payment for jobs he did. Sammy thought that most of the pennies he got each week should be earned pennies.

Sammy earned his pennies by searching for jobs to do all year long. In the summertime, Sammy rose early in the morning, went outdoors, and grew his own vegetable garden. When his vegetables were large and ripe enough to eat, Sammy sold them at a vegetable stand that he set up on his front lawn. 

Anxious to do more jobs, Sammy often walked his neighbor’s pet poodle. For the elderly, he mowed their lawns, raked their leaves, did their shopping, and cleaned out their garages. He joined with one other ambitious boy to wash cars.”

 

As we return to the goal of attaining accuracy and fluency in reading, which is:  to learn to read through the words on a page easily and smoothly in order to increase the likelihood of understanding the meaning of the words, it’s important to realize that when a student reaches fourth grade and beyond, he has a grave need to be able to: a) read every word on every page, b) understand the basic facts presented in each paragraph, and c) draw inferences from the conclusions he reaches.   

When children are able to sound out words, as are children trained to read using a systematic phonics reading method, their measure of accuracy and fluency will carry them through elementary school textbooks, junior high school textbooks, high school textbooks, and college level textbooks. 

This is why the people at Candy 4WAY Phonics  offer a COMPLETE Systematic 4Way Phonics Program at the affordable price of just $9.97.  We want children to be able to read every page on every page, accurately comprehend meaning from every sentence, and decisively draw conclusions from every paragraph.

After all, isn’t that why accuracy and fluency in reading are such vital skills for our children to possess? 

Sincerely, Carol Kay, President

Candy 4WAY Phonics