When a child starts to read, parents start to hear new reading terms which they hadn't heard before. They hear words like fluency, automaticity, modeling and rate or speed of reading.

On this page you will find answers to these questions:

What is reading fluency?
How does it relate to comprehension?

Fluency is the ability to read accurately and quickly with appropriate intonation and expression. Without it, comprehension is compromised. When a student can’t read smoothly and accurately, he will have trouble remembering what he has just read.

From:  The Reading Teacher, April 2015, vol 68, #7

"We have 70 years of evidence that children are more likely to learn to read and to learn content when the text can be read with a high level of accuracy and comprehension."

Fluency comes with accuracy.  As a child is able to read with accuracy because he is able to decode a word quickly, then he will become a faster reader.  HOWEVER, just because a child is a fast reader doesn't necessarily mean he is comprehending what he is reading.

The following is a measure of text complexity and comprehension of that text.







98% - 95%

Below 90%



89% - 75%

Below 50%


A lack of fluency might be caused by:

  • The student doesn’t have sufficient background knowledge.

  • Student doesn’t have sufficient vocabulary knowledge.

  • Student might have a reading disability caused by a learning disability such as dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, autism or Asperger's.

  • Student doesn’t have decoding skills.

What’s the difference between
fluency and automaticity?

Automaticity is fast effortless word recognition with expression. A student who is a fluent reader will not only have automaticity but will read with intonation and expression.

A student who is a fluent reader is not guaranteed to have comprehension of what she just read. Often times teachers mistakenly think that a student that reads smoothly comprehends what she is reading. Courtney was one such student.

Fluent readers will enjoy reading more than non-fluent readers because they don’t have to concentrate on decoding words. They are easy to listen to because they enjoy the material they are reading.

What does it mean to model reading?

Reading fluency needs to be built. It doesn’t just happen for most students. Parents and teachers need to model how it is done. Using all or a combination of the following techniques will help your child with reading fluency:

  • Parent or teacher reading aloud

  • Reader models intonation and expression

  • Does echo reading with student

  • Read the same passage 3 to 5 times. Time. Read until the same rate (or less) has been reached three times.

How do I know if my child has a problem
with reading fluency?

If the student has one error for every 10 words, then he has an accuracy problem. However, if he has very few errors for the passage but a low rate, then he probably has a fluency problem.

For instance, if he read a 100 word passage and had 10 errors or more, than he needs to concentrate on reading the words correctly by slowing down. If he read the passage and had less than 5 errors, and his time was very slow, then he has a fluency problem.

How do I know my child's reading level?

The following graph will help you determine your child's silent and oral reading level.

Grade Silent Reading Oral Reading
2nd 70 – 100 WPM 66 – 104 WPM
3rd 95 – 130 WPM 86 – 124 WPM
4th 120 – 170 WPM 95 – 130 WPM
5th 160 – 210 WPM 108 – 140 WPM
6th 180 – 230 WPM 112 – 145WPM
7th 180 – 240 WPM 122 – 155WPM

(Graph courtesy of

To figure WPM(words read per minute): Multiply the # of words read by 60 Divide that number by total # of seconds read.

To figure WCPM(words correctly read per minute): Multiply the # of words read correctly by 60 Divide that number by the total # of seconds read.

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