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Reading Fluency & Comprehension

Reading Fluency

Slow fluency and poor accuracy can make reading unbearable and will negatively affect comprehension. There are research-based guidelines for how many correct words per minute a student should be able to read by the end of their grade level. If your student is extremely slow and/or very inaccurate when reading, you should consider reading instruction steeped in Orton Gillingham based methods. It is never too late to learn reading and spelling methods that will improve student reading fluency, resulting in better comprehension. If these skills are in place and fluency continues to be an issue, then targeted fluency practice may be in order.

The Remedy:

Make sure your student has the skills necessary to break words into meaningful parts in order to sound them out and read them. If these skills are in place then you can work on fluency using repeated reading and fluency drills. One way to do this is to use oral reading fluency recordings. Voice-record your student as he/she reads a passage. Afterwards, have the student listen to the recording while they follow along with the text. This draws their attention to what they are doing well and what they need to improve upon. They can hear their prosody, mark reading errors and make goals for their second and third reading of the text. Repeat this process two or three times until you are both happy with the level of fluency attained. These readings can also be timed. With each reading, you should push the student to beat their time yet maintain accurate word reading.

Sometimes students have received all the right instruction, yet when reading they skip small words (of, but, as, if, etc.), skip or change suffixes or substitute similar looking words for the actual word on the page. You can draw attention to these types of errors with a highlighter, a word/sentence window or simply by telling them what their errors are and asking them to slow down and read exactly what is on the page.

Memory & Attention

This article would be amiss if it didn’t mention memory and attention. Memory can also cause trouble with reading comprehension. Often dyslexics have trouble remembering what they read, just moments after reading something. This might be due to a lack of attention/focus. It could also be due to memory retrieval issues or slow processing. Many people can relate to having a wandering mind while reading material that is not interesting or emotionally engaging. These problems may occur alongside dyslexia. Forty percent of dyslexics also have attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity.


There are other reasons individuals may struggle with reading comprehension, but when you are dealing with dyslexia the struggles are often found in the details. This article is part of a larger article that was published for Home Educators Resource Directory (HERD).  It briefly describes some of the most commonly used strategies for improving comprehension when it is a result of having dyslexia.

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