Reading fluency is defined as the ability to read smoothly and accurately, while using proper phrasing and expression (Bengeny,etal.,(2010). It is important that students add emphasis and make inferences while reading to process the meaning to the information being read. When practicing reading fluency it is important that students develop automacity. A professional ballet dancer no longer consciously has to think about her form or steps to a routine, a fluent reader should no longer remember to be aware of phonics or spelling rules while reading fluency. These skills will be embedded in the process of reading that it will just come natural to the student. In order for a student to read fluency without consciously thinking of the skill they must be taught systematically and explicitly, at the proper time and sequence. Word recognition, phonological awareness, decoding, and sight recognition are areas struggled readers need most help in (Bengeny,etal.,(2010).
Without this knowledge the reader’s fluency slows down and it will affects their comprehension to the information being read. These are skills that need to be taught to become automatic. Researchers indicate that phonemic awareness and letter knowledge are very important in learning to decode (Bengeny,etal.,(2010). A student’s inability to identify the sounds in a word as well as blend them to form the words pronunciation may lead to multiple attempts to pronounce unknown words, decreasing the students speed and comprehension. Many students, from elementary school to high school struggle with reading fluency and comprehension. For years researches have studied and investigated elements of effective reading and why there are such a high number of struggled readers. Statistics have shown that 65 percent of eight graders in secondary school students with learning disabilities read below the 20th percentile and the numbers are even greater in urban school districts (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2007).
Theorists argue that characteristics of proficient readers are to read reasonable and at an efficient rate (Spencer, S.A., Manis, F.R. (2010). It is common for students who are struggled readers to have trouble achieving fluency in word and passage reading. Fluency is identified as a critical component to successful reading. Two reading theorist Laberge and Samuels made a direct link between reading fluency and comprehension as cited by (Spencer, Manis. 2010). Student must develop automatist in order to properly comprehend the text they are reading. If the student has not mastered fluency in reading, they will have difficulties learning new reading skills. LaBerge and Samuels (2010) state that as a reader’s fluency increases the cognitive resources are opened and the reader’s comprehension will increase.
Many researchers suggest that early readers should develop fluency at an age appropriate level. Students between first and third grade should read connected text identified as the approximate time when most readers should develop this skill. In 2002 National Assessment of Educational Progress founded a strong correlation between fluency and comprehension, and oral reading fluency and students overall reading abilities. There are effective ways that help improve a student’s reading fluency when implementing specific methods of instruction (O’Shea, L.J.,Sindelar,P. T. & O’Shea,D.J (1985).
There are several fluency- based strategies that a reported to improve the range of students reading abilities, when specific instructional component are combined. Therrien believed that the Repeated Reading strategy (RR) was the most effective strategy to help students who struggled in fluency and reading compression (as cited by Bengeny,etal., 2010). The RR strategy required the student to reread a short passage for a set number of times or until a certain criterion was met. This strategy was effective with both students who were struggle readers and students without learning disabilities.
Therrien believed that a certain protocols must be followed in order for this strategy to be affective (Bengeny,etal., 2010).. RR is most affective when a first reads a passage aloud to an adult, is provided with a cue during instruction (for example to read with comprehension, fluency, or speed), repeat reading passage at least three or four times, receive corrective feedback as part of instruction, and read until a performance criterion is met (Spencer,S.A., Manis,F.R. 2010). Morgan and Sideridis (2006) conducted a meta-analysis with students who were identified as at-risk students with learning disabilities. They found that affective fluency strategies integrate goal setting, feedback, reinforcement and instructional components, like RR and listening to more skilled readers read (as cited by Bengeny,etal., 2010).
When using strategies in reading fluency its important follow right components that are associated with benifical outcomes for students. The first component being model reading, allowing students listen to a more skilled reader, either a classmate or an adult. Having a systematic error- correction procedure is important because the student is aware of the errors being made and will learn the proper way to correct it and will be prepared to self-correct errors before made again. Goal setting gives the students a criterion and applies a practicing text until the predetermined performance is met. Performance feedback combined with graphical display of student’s progress; keep the student informed with their performance. Graphs can be shown as visual improvements or regression. Use of a systematic praise and structured reward system are used for students reading behaviors and accomplishments (Spencer, S.A., Manis, and F.R. 2010).
Use verbal cues for students to read with fluency, by promoting greater speed and accuracy. Verbal cues for students to read for comprehension are repeated reading of ability appropriate text out loud to an adult at least three times (O’Shea, L.J., Sindelar,P. T. & O’Shea,D.J.1985). By combining fluency based instructional components; a fluency based instructional package has been created with ready to use materials for teachers to use ad a form of intervention. The foundation of these programs were developed to serve as a addition to a students core reading program; providing systematic guidelines for easy implementation; and allow for greater publication across schools, districts, and states (Spencer,S.A., Manis,F.R.2010).
Great Leaps is a reading program that is used to help struggled readers. Great Leaps includes two primary sets of materials. Its has a K-2 program used as and addition to a students core reading program and a third through fifth grade program that is used to remediate low-performing students’ reading skills. Great Leaps Reading program is used throughout the United States, Canada and over 40 countries. Over 1,400 schools in New York City Department of Education have adopted Great Leaps reading program in elementary schools (Bengeny,etal.,2010). Great Leaps is currently one of the most popular and most used reading programs that educator’s uses in addition to students core reading curriculum in pursuit to improve a students reading fluency and comprehension. Great Leaps primary emphasis is on fluency, with the assumption that comprehension will improve if the student becomes a more fluent reader. This program is easy to implement, teachers will administer the lesson in a one-to-one setting for approximately 10 minutes per session daily. The procedure includes three of the evidence- based components such as; modeled reading, goal setting, and performance feedback with graphical displays of student’s progress (Bengeny,etal.,(2010).
During the session student will be reading three timed readings. Each reading will be under the following three headings; phonics, sight phrases, and stories. Each reading is timed for about one minute. The goal for the student is to read each page with no more than two errors a page. Instructors are encouraged to use some form of error correction and to reward students for accomplishments, with praise and small tangible rewards. Error correction must be immediate and followed by modeling of the correct response. When the student successful masters the page, he/she will then progress “leap” on to the next page, which contains slightly more difficult material (Mercer& Campbell., 1998,p137). Great Leaps reading intervention allows students to frequently practice reading material that are to par with their reading capabilities; practice does not occur during the same session.
Furthermore, fluency and comprehension are learning disabilities that are increasing overtime. There are numerous intervention programs available to assist students with their disability. Every district and school has their own techniques and programs they use to help struggle readers with fluency. When choosing the right intervention program for students, research must be done on the program being used. Educators need to be aware of the eight components that are associated with beneficial out comes in students who struggle in reading fluency.
The program Great Leaps after being evaluated has been fundamental, due to the minimal research done on this intervention. One study stated that Great Leaps (K-2) program did not aim to evaluate the portion independent from another reading program that was being implemented concurrently (Trout, etal., 2003). Through researcher Great Leaps is proven to be an effective strategy to improve reading fluency. Researchers have found that this program can be improved by integrating more of the instructional components, such as repeated reading and systematic errors correction. If these improvements are made to the program, the effectiveness of Great Leaps will increase in students (Bengeny, etal., 2010).