Explicit Intervention in Fluency

Intervention Overview

A fluency intervention is appropriate for students who are accurate in their reading of grade level texts, but lack automaticity. The three components of fluency – appropriate speed (rate), accuracy, and prosody (expression) – can be addressed through instructional strategies such as repeated readings, partner reading, choral reading, technology-assisted reading, timed reading, phrased reading, and echo reading.

What is Fluency?

Fluency is defined as reading with sufficient accuracy, rate, and expression to support comprehension (Hasbrouck & Tindal, 2006). Reading fluency is essential for students to have the cognitive capacity to comprehend and think critically about a text. 

Explicit Intervention in Fluency

In an intervention for fluency, it is important that lessons support skills in all areas of fluency (accuracy, rate, and expression) and employ instructional strategies that integrate phonemic awareness, decoding, spelling, vocabulary, and morphology into intervention lessons. Lear more about planning and providing explicit intervention in fluency in the video below.

Preparing to Implement the Intervention

Before delivering an explicit intervention in fluency, establish that the students can read at least 95% of words accurately on a grade-level passage. Students who are accurate in their reading but lack automaticity are good candidates for explicit intervention in fluency.

Plan explicit instructional routines, such as those presented in the video, that model fluent reading and allow for students’ meaningful practice with decoding, high frequency words, and target vocabulary found in readings or content lessons. 

What Elements to Include in a Fluency Intervention

Phonemic Awareness, Decoding, and Vocabulary

Vocabulary and Morphemes

Diagnostic-Prescriptive Teaching

Phonemic Awareness, Decoding, & Vocabulary

Instruction targeting phoneme fluency⁠— identifying first sounds, blending, and segmenting sounds in spoken words— including the printed letters that represent the target phoneme and word meanings.

Vocabulary and Morphemes

Instruction that develops the layers of language— sound, meaning, context, and spelling— and that builds understanding of vocabulary words and their meanings.

Teacher working with one student
Diagnostic-Prescriptive Teaching

Instruction based on students' needs that includes continuous progress monitoring of skills so content is mastered with accuracy and automaticity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why intervene with reading fluency?

There is significant evidence from research that reading comprehension is limited by slow, laborious reading. To gain meaning from text, students must be able to read words quickly and effortlessly. 

What is the goal of explicit intervention in fluency?

The goal should be to get students to read texts at a reasonable speed to support comprehension and to make the reading sound like language (using appropriate emotion when reading aloud, pausing for periods and commas). 

What are common characteristics of students in need of fluency intervention?

You may notice that students who need fluency intervention have developed adequate word reading skills but read at a very slow rate. These students may read word-by-word, ignore punctuation, appear unmotivated, or lack sufficient vocabulary.

Featured Resources

This table shows the oral reading fluency rates of elementary students. Students scoring below the 50th percentile may need fluency support.

Visit the Florida Center for Reading Research and search for fluency lessons by grade level.

This infographic from the National Center on Improving Literacy outlines four steps to building fluency with text.

These activities from Student Achievement Partners are designed to support growth in reading fluency during in-person or virtual learning.

Student Achievement Partners has compiled passages to help students build fluency over the course of the school year.

This blog post from the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities Teacher's Corner focuses on reading fluency in classrooms.

Learn about an evidence-based intervention that can be used with students who have accurate word reading but show poor fluency.

Read this book by Jan Hasbrouk, Ph.D. and Deborah Glaser, Ed.D. and learn more about the complex skill of reading fluency.

Additional Learning Opportunities

Dr. Laura Stewart shares fluency building techniques in Part 3 of this Zaner-Bloser webinar series.

This toolkit from the National Center on Improving Literacy provides information, examples, and resources for teachers and families on reading fluency.

Watch Reading Fluency: Essential for Reading Comprehension presented by Dr. Jan Hasbrouck.