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Fluency development: Practice means progress

McShane, Susan
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation: 
National Center for Family Literacy
Resource Type: 
Number of Pages: 
Product Type: 
Skill Level: 
NRS EFL 1--ABE Beginning Literacy
NRS EFL 2--ABE Beginning Basic Education
NRS EFL 3--ABE Intermediate Low
NRS EFL 4--ABE Intermediate High
NRS EFL 4--ESL Low Intermediate ESL
NRS EFL 5--ESL High Intermediate ESL
NRS EFL 6--Advanced ESL Literacy
Required Training: 



This resource introduces adult education practitioners to fluency's definition, importance, and effective techniques, and recommends guided reading through modeling, simultaneous reading, assistance and correction, and combinations of these methods.

She describes specific techniques to enhance fluency:

  • Reading to the teacher or tutor
  • Echo reading
  • Dyad or choral reading
  • Paired or partner reading
  • Tape-assisted reading
  • Performance reading

The author also discusses other issues that have influence on fluency: 

Skill in decoding

  • Appropriate reading difficulty of material
  • Text readability
  • Assessment
  • Type and length of passage
  • Use of audiotapes
  • Tutor Assistance
  • Silent reading
  • Importance of practice

These simple tips are based on the National Reading Panel (2000) report and subsequent research implications from that report for adult reading by John Kruidenier (2002).

What the Experts Say: 

Several points made in this resource may have value to adult educators. For one thing, the author confronts the myth that adults should not be asked to read aloud. However, she couches the comment in terms of reading aloud in a group - and then talks about oral reading as if it were a one-to-one thing which seems a bit confusing.

Kruidenier and the NRP describe guided repeated oral reading (GROR) and then say that no way of doing it has been shown to be better than others. So we have all continued to assume that any repeated oral reading procedure is just fine. I hope this is the case. It might have been helpful if they had provided criteria for effective GROR - then at least we could have checked our techniques against the criteria.

The author is clear in taking her cue from Kruidenier - working on fluency is a good idea. GROR - the language used by Kruidenier and the NRP - is an effective way to increase fluency. She says this and then describes several ways to do it. This will probably have the effect of reassuring teachers that the techniques they've used are all effective. Unfortunately, since there is no way to evaluate any one technique against criteria, we don't really know whether all those techniques are equal.

The most helpful feature of this resource is the encouragement of the author for teachers to go to: There are many useful tidbits of information at this site.

It would have been helpful for the author to provide more details by giving step by step instructions on how to select passages and how to determine readiness of students to move on to a higher passage. I am just not sure how well a practitioner can carry out fluency activities based on the descriptions McShane provides.

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