There is more and more emphasis on fluency as research shows that it is a necessary precursor to reading comprehension. In educational language, “fluency” is a buzz-word that gets thrown around with great weight. What is fluency? Reading fluency encompasses the speed or rate of reading, as well as the ability to read materials with expression. It is often a misconception that if they are reading at a faster, more fluent rate, that they simply “know” the words they see. This is actually not what is really happening.
When we simply read and reread a passage with our students so that they “memorize” the visual representation of the word so they can read the passage faster and with less errors, it is not necessarily helping them improve overall fluency. Research has shown that fluency is not established by ‘memorizing’ what words look like but rather by developing correct neural-phonologic models of the word. Repeated accurate phonologic processing is the essential precursor for developing ‘fast’ neural pathways. The only way this is accomplished is through direct, systematic phonics instruction to help build those pathways and make the process automatic. I just wanted to share this information with you to help raise awareness about how important this systematic phonics instruction is as the foundation for fluent, successful reading.