Reading Fluency

Authored by: Timothy V. Rasinski , D. Ray Reutzel , David Chard , Sylvia Linan-Thompson

Handbook of Reading Research

Print publication date:  October  2010
Online publication date:  March  2011

Print ISBN: 9780805853421
eBook ISBN: 9780203840412
Adobe ISBN: 9781136891427


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Fluency as a key construct in reading research appeared very early in the literature about reading development. As early as 1886, Cattell described the importance to reading of learners recognizing words nearly automatically. Shortly thereafter, Huey (1968) noted that automaticity with the details of print allowed a reader to focus attention on the content of what is read. In the 1970s, LaBerge and Samuels (1974) posited a theory of automaticity that suggested that mastery of the sublexical components of reading (i.e., letter-sound correspondences, blending, word recognition) contributed to fluency. More recently, the focus has shifted to fluency as a critical stage that learners pass through in their attainment of reading proficiency (Chall, 1983; Ehri, 2005; Ehri & Wilce, 1983; Samuels, 2002). The National Reading Panel (2000) again emphasized reading fluency noting that neglect of fluency in classroom instruction belied the fact that it is a “critical component of skilled reading” (p. 32). Though attention paid to the topic of reading fluency has increased over the past few years, consensus has not yet been achieved on how to define it.

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