Why Give So Much Attention to a One-Minute Oral Reading Fluency Score?

by Dawn Durham

A one-minute oral reading fluency assessment is a quality predictor for reading comprehension. A student’s ability to decode text with high accuracy, appropriate speed, and good prosodic behaviors, statistically speaking, will perform at a proficient level on high stakes testing. According to NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress), the highest correlation between reading rate on a one-minute assessment and comprehension was at the third grade level. Evidence of a .91 correlation can be made between reading rate and comprehension. For those students who score low on a one-minute oral reading assessment, much of their cognitive “desk space” is taken up with the laborious task of decoding. These students are using large portions of their working memory to decode words in the text and therefore are unable to give much of their cognitive energy to understanding the text.

Administering a one-minute oral reading fluency assessment will allow a teacher to identify potential at-risk students. Identifying these students early will afford them an opportunity to receive intervention that can address their decoding needs and begin to free up that cognitive “desk space” in hopes of giving more mental energy to comprehending text.

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