In their daily lives, most adults read silently far more frequently than they read aloud. The same is true of older students. Silent reading comprehension is, after all, the skill needed to perform well on tests and in academics in general. Does this mean teachers of older students should stop spending time on oral reading fluency?Fluency instruction for older students

Literacy expert Dr. Tim Shanahan addresses this question in his blog post, Fluency Instruction for Older Kids, Really?. We agree with his response—and so does the research.

Shanahan asserts that teachers of older students should not stop focusing on oral reading fluency. Numerous studies show that oral reading practice is a highly worthwhile use of time, even for older students. This practice improves a student’s ability to read aloud with proper expression, and, even more importantly, it greatly improves comprehension.

Unfortunately, many teachers of older students aren’t making time for it. As Shanahan reports, teachers are often told to stop oral reading practice in the primary grades. In fact, the Common Core Standards only include fluency teaching through grade 5. And yet, “by 8th grade, oral reading fluency differences still explain 25% of the variance in reading comprehension.”

The research is clear: Better oral reading fluency correlates with better comprehension and vice versa. Shanahan sums it up as follows: “If you only have kids practicing their silent reading, then you are slowing kids’ progress and sacrificing achievement points.”

So how can teachers of older students take this message to heart? Read Naturally programs are a wonderful solution. We offer materials through an eighth-grade reading level, and our strategy requires students to spend a significant amount of time reading aloud. Countless studies of our programs have proven that, when students build their oral reading fluency in this way, strong comprehension develops as well.

Oral reading fluency and comprehension go hand-in-hand, which is why our programs emphasize both. Check out our website to learn more or sign up for a free trial.