Read the latest blog from Hampshire Research School where they discuss the new EEF Primary Science Guidance Report.
by Hampshire Research School at Front Lawn Primary
What is reading fluency and what impact can it have?
Post Covid-19 lockdowns, it quickly became evident that our disadvantaged pupils were significantly behind their peers in reading. After initial assessments it was apparent that although the children had retained their phonics skills their lack of fluency was impeding their comprehension.
What is fluency?
Fluency is the link between recognising words and understanding them. Effective reading programmes teach fluency skills so that readers can make the link between words, sounds, and meaning more quickly. Fluent readers are no longer ‘decoding’ each word they encounter. They have developed the knowledge and skills to recognise words automatically, accurately and quickly but what impact does this have on reading comprehension?
When you are a fluent reader, you are able to read without thinking about the mechanics of reading. S. Jay Samuels started doing research in the 1970’s. In 2006, he stated, “Comprehension requires the fluent mastery of the surface-level aspects of reading.”
Children who are fluent readers can interact with text on a deeper level as it allows them to bridge the gap between word reading and comprehension. If youngsters are not fluent readers, their entire reading success suffers.
It has been argued in earlier studies that fluency and comprehension are connected in the sense that fluent word recognition frees up processing time that can be used to focus on understanding. Without comprehension, the aim of reading is not reached, and children are not successful readers.
What we did
From the EEF Improving Literacy Guidance Reports, we decided to introduce guided oral reading instruction and repeated reading in order to develop childrens’ fluency. When we first began, we quickly realised teachers’ lacked understanding of what fluency consisted of and were over focused on the speed in which a child was reading. Therefore, CPD time was dedicated to unpicking the different elements of fluency including: automaticity, pace and prosody. For more information on how to effectively plan Professional Development, clickhere.
After this CPD cycle, fluency was embedded within the whole class reading cycle from Year R upwards which allowed time for children to hear expert prosody and repeat it back until it was perfect. Another part of the process involved time for paired reading and performing this to the class. Children became proficient at text marking for fluency which subsequently helped them apply this skill to an unseen text.
What was the impact?
As a result of this process, our Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 results in both 2022 and 2023 exceeded results from 2019 in reading therefore showing no dip in attainment over this time. Additionally, our latest results in 2023 showed 84% of children attaining ARE in reading with disadvantaged children outperforming National ALL.
For more information on fluency in the classroom have a look here.
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