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As you know, students will make optimal reading progress when they work in material at the appropriate level. The problem is that the definition of “appropriate level” changes depending on the context. When should you give students material at their independent level? How about their instructional level? What is the difference between the two? And is it ever appropriate to let them work at their frustration level? If you’ve ever found yourself asking these questions—or if you find yourself needing to explain these concepts to parents—you’ve come to the right place! We’re here to break it down for you.

“This book is too hard for you.” “This book isn’t at the right level.” Have you ever said these things to a student? Chances are, you have. As you know, a book at the wrong level can easily cause a struggling reader to feel frustrated or incompetent—which may lead to just turning the pages and looking at pictures. Thus, it’s often appropriate for a teacher to direct the student toward easier reading material. And yet, in some situations, a book that’s “too hard” is exactly the right choice. How do you know the difference?

To achieve fluency, a student must read with appropriate rate, expression, and accuracy. All three components are required for fluency, but are they equally important? Jan Hasbrouck, Ph.D., is a reading researcher and Read Naturally supporter who has devoted her career to studying fluency. In this guest post, she discusses accuracy as the foundational component of fluency.

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