Oral Reading Screens are non-invasive, private quick screens of your student's oral reading skills. The student is given a short grade-level passage that s/he has never seen, and told to read it aloud to me. I also tell the student that if there are any words s/he does not know, I will say those words so s/he can keep reading. At the end of one minute, s/he is stopped. If the student did extremely well, we are finished. Most often, I give a 2nd one-minute passage for the student to read for one minute. On rare occasions, I might give an 3rd passage because readability ease can change for a given student, depending on the topic of the passage.
The student's error patterns are then analyzed to determine the level of reading acquisition that is mastered. Some of the things which are noted are:
1. Is the pace at least average? A nation-wide standardized chart is used to determine if the pace is typical for that grade. This takes the guess-work out of knowing if your student's pace is adequate.
2. Has the student mastered all of the letter sounds and letter combinations (sh, ch, etc.).
3. Is the student confused with words that are similar (house/horse) or does s/he stumble over words with specific sound patterns?
4. Does the student used consistent skills in decoding (sounding out) unknown words.
5. Is the student tracking across the page adequately?
6. Is the student's accuracy rate at least 95% on grade-level passages?
Perhaps you already know that your student is "average" or "below average," so you think an Oral Reading Screen is not important. However, over 30 years of scientific research into reading acquisition has revealed that a student who is below average in reading skills at grade 3 will almost never catch up -- unless direct and specific instruction targets the deficit foundation skills that are causing the student difficulty.
During an Oral Reading Screen, the student's error patterns can be analyzed to determine future predictability of reading success. A quick screen allows Susan to rapidly identify students who are at danger of reading failure and who likely need a more direct type of reading instruction than what is found in typical home school curricula.
This is one of the most powerful short clips about Oral Reading fluency, and I highly recommend you watch the full 6-minutes before (or instead of) reading the rest of my information: http://www.readnaturally.com/howto/v_whyFluency.html Although it is presented by a company which markets reading fluency remediation materials, the inclusion of this link is not an attempt to advertise. It contains research-based information which will assist parents in understanding the importance of acquiring adequate grade-level fluency skills.
If warranted after your student's Oral Reading Screen, Susan can discuss with the parent which type(s) of specialized instruction which the parent can provide to remediate the student's skills to close that gap and keep it closed! Without it, research shows that students will continue to lag behind their grade-level peers. Typically the gap between the student and grade-level peers continues to widen, sometimes at a rapid pace. This brings discouragement and often causes emotional stress.
Oral reading fluency is also accurately-predictive of a student's ability to comprehend grade-level reading material. Strong comprehension requires a student to decode (sound out) the material, keep that information in short-term working memory while continuing to read further words which connect to the previously-read words. Students who read at a pace that is typical for their grade, will comprehend significantly better than those who read slower than average. This is why it is so important to get your student to read at a grade-level pace with 95% accuracy, sufficient expression, and appropriate phrasing. Otherwise, as the reading material increases in complexity at each grade level, the student will struggle to learn.
Although there are excellent programs and methods for increasing reading fluency, it is important to understand why the student's fluency is not at grade level. Working on fluency alone is not enough if the student struggles with sounding out and blending words. Instruction must be targeted to the deficit skills, and not all students are ready to work on fluency with grade-level passages. Any fluency-building procedures need to use passages that a student can read with 95% accuracy at the first (cold, unpracticed) reading. This ensures that the student is working on fluency rather than word memorization.
The earlier a student's struggles are identified, even if only mild, the better are the chances of becoming a reader who is confident, enjoys reading, and successfully comprehends complex grade-level material. Oral Reading Screens are available for students in grades K-12. Kindergarten students are assessed with different types of skills than "reading," and these skills also predict whether or not your student is on schedule with reading acquisition, or might need a different type of curriculum to target those skills.
For more information on reading fluency, you might want to research these reputable, trustworthy links: