Research Basis

Research Basis for the Read Naturally Strategy

A solid foundation of research provides the basis for the Read Naturally Strategy. Read Naturally has incorporated this research into a powerful program for building fluency. These programs are based on the Read Naturally Strategy: Read Naturally Live, Read Naturally Encore, Read Naturally GATE, and Read Naturally Masters Edition.

The Problem: Struggling Readers Often Have Fluency Problems

A student whose reading is word-by-word, halting, slow, and laborious has a fluency problem. Over 30 years of research indicates that fluency is one of the critical building blocks of reading, because fluency development is directly related to comprehension. Many researchers have found that fluency is highly correlated with reading comprehension and that fluency is a strong predictor of later reading achievement (Armstrong; Breznitz; Fuchs, Fuchs, Hosp, & Jenkins; Good, Simmons, & Kame'enui; Hintze & Silberglitt; Knupp; Lesgold, Resnick, & Hammond; Pinnell, Pikulski, Wixson, Campbell, Gough, & Beatty; Stage & Jacobsen).

And evidence suggests there could be a causal link between fluency instruction and increases in comprehension (Reutzel & Hollingsworth). Simply put, when a student reads fluently, that student is likely to comprehend what he or she is reading. Consequently, teachers need to develop their students' fluency.

Students become fluent by practicing reading (Allington). Some students can learn to read fluently without explicit instruction. For others, however, fluency doesn't develop in the course of normal classroom instruction.

Research analyzed by the National Reading Panel suggests that just encouraging students to read independently isn't the most effective way to improve reading achievement (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, a). Too often, simply encouraging at-risk students to read doesn't result in increased reading on their part.

During independent reading time, at-risk students often do not read. They cannot or will not independently read the books in classroom libraries. When asked to read quietly, they sometimes pretend to read or just look at the pictures. Often these students are not able to read the basal textbooks and anthologies in use in their classrooms.

Poor fluency is a self-perpetuating problem. Struggling readers read so few words during their instructional and independent reading time that the gap between the number of words they read and the number of words their peers read continually widens. Struggling readers need targeted help to achieve fluency.

The Solution: What Struggling Readers Need to Become Fluent

Struggling readers need a supportive, structured, and highly motivating opportunity to read on a daily basis. Research supports teacher modeling, repeated reading, and progress monitoring as ways to involve struggling readers in the act of reading, improve their fluency, and accelerate their reading achievement.

What the Research Indicates How the Research Is Applied in the Read Naturally Strategy
Teacher Modeling
Teacher modeling improves reading fluency (Daly & Martens; Eldredge & Quinn; Heckelman; Kuhn & Stahl; McAllister; Reitsma; Skinner, Logan, Robinson, & Robinson). Teacher modeling consists of a proficient reader modeling correct pronunciation, rate, expression, and phrasing while reading with a less able reader. Dyad (paired or partner) reading, echoic reading, neurological impress method, and choral reading are examples of this strategy. Teacher modeling helps students learn unknown words and practice difficult words. It also encourages proper pronunciation and expression.
During the Read Along step, the student reads quietly along with the narrator while listening to a recording of the story, usually three times. The Read Naturally stories are read at a pace that allows students to actually read along, increase the learning of new words, and reinforce words not firmly mastered.

The stories are recorded at three different rates. The second recording is slightly faster than the first. The third recording models a proficient reader emphasizing good expression.
Repeated Reading
Repeated reading also improves fluency (Dowhower; Knupp; Koskinen & Blum; Kuhn & Stahl; LaBerge & Samuels; Larking; O'Shea, Sindelar, & O'Shea; Rashotte & Torgeson; Richek & McTague). Repeated reading means reading a short story or passage many times until a student is able to read it fluently. Repeated reading helps the student learn to recognize some words, master others, and increase fluency. The student will be able to transfer knowledge of the words learned and mastered to subsequent text.
During the Practice step, the student reads the story without audio support three to ten times until able to read at a predetermined goal rate. Immediate feedback is provided as the student times each practice. Seeing progress motivates the student to continue practicing and develop the accuracy and expression needed to pass the story.
Progress Monitoring
Daily monitoring of student progress improves student achievement (Schunk).Monitoring increases student involvement in the learning process and promotes teacher awareness of each student's progress. By communicating goals and expectations, a teacher can increase students' academic achievement (Althoff, Linde, Mason, Nagel, & O'Reilly).  In addition, providing students with feedback on their progress toward short- and long-term goals has been shown to increase students' performance (Conte & Hintze). When students are given specific goals, they demonstrate significantly higher self-efficacy (Schunk & Rice). Progress monitoring rewards students for their efforts by showing evidence of their progress and motivates them to keep reading. When performance data is graphed, both teachers and students can easily monitor progress (Fuchs & Fuchs, a, b; Fuchs, Fuchs, Hamlett, Walz, & Germann; Fuchs, Fuchs, Hamlett, & Whinnery).
Early in the process, the teacher or student conducts a cold timing for one minute. As the student orally reads the selected story for the first time, he or she clicks (or underlines) difficult words to determine the words correct per minute (WCPM). The computer program (or the student) graphs the cold-timing score in blue to establish a baseline for progress monitoring. After the Read Along and Practice steps, the teacher conducts a hot timing. To pass, the student must read the story at the goal rate, make three or fewer errors, read with good expression, and answer all of the questions correctly. The computer program (or the student) graphs the hot-timing score in red above the blue data for the cold-timing score.

The Read Naturally Strategy combines these three powerful, research-based strategies to create a powerful tool that individualizes instruction and improves the reading fluency of struggling readers.

Intervention Programs Based on the Read Naturally Strategy

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Read Naturally Live logo Read Naturally® Live
Individualized reading intervention program using web-based software

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Read Naturally Encore logo Read Naturally® Encore
New individualized reading intervention program using printed stories and audio CDs

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One Minute Reader logo One Minute Reader® Live
A component of web-based Read Live for supplemental, independent reading

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Read Naturally® GATE
Small-group instruction to teach phonemic awareness, phonics, high-frequency words, and fluency

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For More Information

pointer Read Naturally Strategy Rationale & Research Brief
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