Fluency Information Sheet

This article provides information about fluency.

Feature Overview

What Is Fluency?

A fluent reader can read a wide variety of texts aloud using appropriate expression and rate. Within the Lincoln Empowered Kindergarten through 2nd grade English Language Arts (ELA) courses, fluency is achieved through instruction in letter and word recognition, sentence reading, and acquisition of phonics skills. To monitor fluency, Lincoln Empowered has incorporated fluency assessments into its ELA curriculum.

What Are Fluency Assessments?

To monitor student progress with fluency, students need to be assessed in a low-stakes manner frequently throughout an academic year to determine their level of proficiency, their percentage of accuracy, and the number of words they can read in one minute’s (60 seconds) time.

Top Facts
  1. Each course starts with a baseline assessment. This is a great diagnostic assessment for understanding where a student stands when beginning a course.
  2. Students submit assessments using a fluency recorder built into the learning management system (LMS).
  3. While they are called assessments, fluency assessments are not given a formal letter grade. Rather, they are used as an initial screening tool and for progress monitoring.
  4. The number of fluencies found in the courses will vary by grade.
  5. Parent and Teacher Guides provide additional insight and support on taking fluency assessments.
Why were these created?

The Lincoln Empowered K-2 ELA courses were created to achieve the goal of fluent reading for each student. A fluent reader will read at or above their expected level without hesitation.

Identifying letters, working with sight words, acquiring phonics skills to the automatic level, and practicing reading sentences smoothly all contribute to the development of fluency. Automaticity is a significant factor in reading fluently, and it is achieved through learning, repetition, and practice.

Fluency assessments, then, allow students, parents, and teachers to see progress and areas of strength and weakness throughout an academic year.

In what courses are these found?

English Language Arts K, English Language Arts 1, and English Language Arts 2


Q: How does a student take a Fluency Assessment?

A: With each fluency assessment, a student is provided a piece of text (various letters, sight words, short sentences, etc.). The student then reads the provided text aloud while recording themselves using the fluency recorder tool in the assessment. The student should read the piece in its entirety, though the recorder itself will only record the first 60 seconds. The cap on recording is done intentionally and cannot be manipulated. Further, the student is not expected or required to finish reading within the allotted timeframe; they should read at a pace that allows them to demonstrate expression, appropriate rate, and as few errors as possible. Upon completion of the recording, the student will submit their work in the LMS. After submission, a teacher will listen to the recording and will provide the student with useful feedback, which will help the student build their literacy skills. The student should use this feedback on the next fluency assessment, thus demonstrating progress and improvement.

Q: How are Fluency Assessments graded?

A: It is important to note that in Lincoln Empowered ELA courses, fluency assessments are not formally graded, meaning they are not given a letter grade nor weight in the student’s gradebook. They are tools that allow a teacher, parent, guardian, etc. to monitor a student’s progress and determine the need for any intervention.

Fluency assessments have criteria that allows an adult to determine a student’s level of proficiency and a formula for calculating their accuracy and words per minute. The first step in determining fluency is to listen to the student read the provided text aloud unrehearsed, then use a scale to determine whether the student is fluent or non-fluent. The most widely used and accepted criteria for this first assessment comes from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Its four-level fluency scale, which can be found easily online, uses characteristics exhibited within the student’s performance to determine their level of fluency. With this scale, a 4 is fluent, and a 1 is non-fluent.

The second step in determining fluency is to calculate the student’s rate and accuracy, or their Words Correct Per Minute (WCPM).

Q: How do I calculate the WCPM (Words Correct Per Minute)?

A: You can use this formula to calculate a student’s WCPM:

(# of words correctly read) ÷ (60 seconds) = WCPM

Once you have the WCPM, you can then compare that figure against an Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) data table. One of the most reputable sources for scoring oral reading fluency is the 2017 Hasbrouck & Tindal Oral Reading Fluency Data table, which can also be found through an Internet search. This table provides percentiles based on the number of words spoken correctly within the 60-second timeframe. It also provides details on how the student is doing when compared to students of the same age.

When comparing data, make sure that you are looking at the appropriate grade and season (fall, winter, or spring). Consistently falling under the 50th percentile after numerous unrehearsed assessments could indicate the need for intervention.

Q: What would be the best way for a teacher to use Lincoln Empowered’s courses that contain fluency assessments in a brick-and-mortar setting?

A: The teacher could have a conversation with or send a letter home to families, such as the one that follows prior to beginning the course:

Learning to read is a fun and exciting adventure! “Fluency” means the ability to read and speak smoothly and easily. Once you become a fluent reader, you will be able to read on-level without a lot of stopping. Working with letters, words, sounds, and sentences will help you become a more fluent reader. Along with time, learning, repetition, and practice are needed to gain fluency. Do not worry if you do not know all the letters or any sight words yet. You will learn about letters, sounds, sight words, and sentences as you go through this course.

You will start by taking a baseline fluency assessment. This will tell you and your teacher what you know now. You will take the same assessment later. These will help you see how much you have progressed since the beginning. Then, you will continue taking fluency assessments throughout the rest of the course to measure your progress.

Fluency assessments are not graded, so it is fine if you cannot complete all parts of an assessment. Always do your best but know that becoming a fluent reader is a process. You will get better and better as you go through the course.

NOTE: Always assure the students that, when they take the baseline assessment, they are not expected to answer or identify everything correctly. Assure them that this is just for them and the teacher to find out what they already know. Encourage the students by explaining the excitement they will feel when they see how much they have learned after taking the assessment.

Q: What would be the most appropriate way for a teacher to use Lincoln Empowered’s courses that contain fluency in an asynchronous virtual setting?

A: The same as above is true, with the addition of reminding families that students have many opportunities for practice and repetition of the letters, words, sentences, and story levels. This will help to promote a sense of interest in growth rather than pass/fail. Do not hesitate to have your students repeat a lesson if they are tentative about their grasp on the content. One of the advantages of an asynchronous setting is that the students can have more input into these types of decisions.


Click here for more information on the design of the fluency assessments included in the Lincoln Empowered ELA courses.

Click here for student tips on completing fluency Assessments.


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