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Ohio Partnership for Excellence in Paraprofessional Preparation

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Our fast-reading students, Alan and Marta, might seem like they are reading fluently. But there is more to fluency than just speed. Accuracy, expressiveness, and naturalness are also important considerations. And comprehension is the most important consideration of all.

Just as we can use proven methods for helping students improve oral reading fluency, we can also use proven methods for assisting students like Alan and Marta with accuracy, expressiveness, naturalness, and comprehension.

  • Alan, who read silently and quickly, seemed to have some trouble with accuracy. He got close to naming the main character correctly, but mixed up the first letter. Alan was probably reading so quickly that he did not retain this small but important detail.
  • Marta, who read aloud and accurately, seemed to struggle with expressiveness. By reading the passage without any natural rhythm and respect for punctuation, she made it more difficult for herself and her audience to notice the sequence of events in the story.

The first thing a parapro might do…

for Alan and Marta is encourage them to slow down. Working on their pace might help them improve their accuracy and expressiveness. And improving both of those will, in turn, help both of them with comprehension, which is the whole point of reading.


Do you know any students like Alan and Marta? How could you help them?


Reading fluency, or the ability to read expressively at a good pace that promotes understanding, represents the culmination of many of the reading skills discussed in previous units: phonemic awareness, phonics, and structural analysis. In that sense, it can be thought of as a goal of reading instruction generally. But instruction on fluency works two ways—in addition to helping students further develop decoding skills, it also helps them improve reading comprehension.


Breznitz, Z. (2006). Fluency in reading: Synchronization of processes. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

Kuhn, M.R., & Schwanenflugel, P. J. (2019). Prosody, pacing, and situational fluency (or why fluency matters for older readers). Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 62(4), 363– 368.

O’Reilly, T., Wang, Z., & Sabatini, J. (2019). How much knowledge Is too little? when a lack of knowledge becomes a barrier to comprehension. Psychological Science, 30(9), 1344–1351.

Sabatini, J., Wang, Z., & O’Reilly, T. (2019). Relating reading comprehension to oral reading performance in the NAEP fourth‐grade special study of oral reading. Reading Research Quarterly, 54(2), 253– 271.


Module: Helping Students Read (Clone)

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