Fluency Overview

This article highlights the English Language Arts Fluency Assessment design for Kindergarten through 2nd grade courses offered by Lincoln Learning Solutions.

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Feature Overview

A fluent reader can read a wide variety of texts aloud using appropriate expression and rate and 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.

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.

Within these assessments, students can read aloud letters, sight words, and short sentences. An adult listens to student responses and can then provide useful feedback to help students build their literacy skills.

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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 complete fluency assessments throughout the academic year.
  3. Fluency assessments are low-stakes assignments. Their main intent is to be used as a screening tool and for progress monitoring.
  4. The number of fluencies found in the courses will vary by grade.
  5. Fluency assessments will contain a Raw Score based on the number of items correctly read aloud by the student. A percentage can then be determined by dividing the number correct by the total items provided.
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Fluency Assessments in the Course

While the word assessment is in the title, these will be graded differently than other teacher-graded, dropbox assignments. Each part will be given a raw score for progress monitoring by the adult, but ultimately, these are completion-based assignments worth 1 point each. The fluency assessments are low-stake evaluations of the skills the student has learned in the previous lessons. The raw score found on the accompanying worksheet gives parents and teachers information about how much the student has learned up to the point of the fluency assessment.

Students need to be evaluated regularly in a low-pressure way throughout the school year to measure their fluency skill, their rate of correctness, and how many words they can read in one minute (60 seconds). These assessments will help to find out where your student is with their fluency level and should be enjoyable and not stressful.

You can use the Fluency Assessments as a way to support your student's development during the year. Fluency assessments, therefore, enable students, parents, and teachers to monitor progress and areas of improvement and challenge during a school year.

In Lesson 1 of the course, students will explore an introduction to fluency. They will begin with the Read It. This content will help students to gain a better understanding of what reading fluency is and why it is an important skill to master. Once they have completed the Read It, students will move to the Assess It to complete a baseline assessment for each fluency type.

Parts of the Fluency Assessment

Each assessment has four parts. Students practice reading the names and sounds of letters, words, and sentences.

Letter Recognition

  • In this section, students are given a set of both uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet. They are to say the name of each letter, and they DO NOT need to say "uppercase" or "lowercase."

Sound Recognition

  • Each letter of the alphabet makes its own sound. In this section, students will say the sound each letter makes.

Word Recognition

  • In this section, students are given a set of words to read. These are the sight words they have been learning. If the student does not know a word, they should say “skip” and go to the next word. It is okay to skip words, and it is also okay if students do not finish before the allotted time (60 seconds) runs out.

Sentence Recognition

  • In this section, students read sentences out loud. If they do not know a word, they should say “skip” and go to the next word. It is okay to skip words, and it is also okay if they do not finish before the allotted time (60 seconds) runs out.

NOTE: It is recommended that students follow the text with a finger to keep their place and a good pace.

Fluency Assessments by Grade

English Language Arts K

In English Language Arts K, there is a baseline assessment for Letter, Sound, Word, and Sentence fluency. These baseline assessments are found in the first lesson and mirror Fluency Assessment 1 found in Lesson 36. Each Fluency Assessment thereafter contains the Letter, Sound, Word, and Sentence assessment types. You will find Fluency Assessments about every 36 lessons. For a complete list of where each Fluency Assessment can be found, remember to check the Pacing Guide.

English Language Arts 1

In English Language Arts 1, there is a baseline in the first lesson that mirrors Fluency Assessment 1 found in Lesson 20. Each Fluency Assessment, including the baseline, contains Letter, Word, and Sentence types. Starting in Assessment 3, found in lesson 60, and through the end of the course, Fluency Assessment topics change to Nonsense Words, Word Recognition, and Sentence types. You will find Fluency Assessments about every 20 lessons. For a complete list of where each Fluency Assessment can be found, remember to check the Pacing Guide.

English Language Arts 2

English Language Arts 2 includes a baseline Fluency Assessment followed by 12 additional Fluency Assessments found, on average, every 15 Lessons. Each Fluency Assessment will focus on Nonsense Words, Word Recognition, and Paragraph types. For a complete list of where each Fluency Assessment can be found, remember to check the Pacing Guide.

TIP: Allow your student a few minutes to rest between each fluency assessment, if necessary. It might be helpful to allow them to get up and walk around the room or complete another physical activity if they need a break.

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Completing a Fluency Assessment

Make sure your student is sitting comfortably in a quiet space and is free from distractions.

Your student may practice the Assess It before formally completing the assignment. Students can read off the screen or from a printed PDF version of the assessment. It is also valuable to have a device that you can time the student for 60 seconds.

When your student is ready to complete the Assess It, have the student begin the assignment and concurrently begin the timer. Encourage the student to follow the text with a finger as they read.

The Assess It learning object will contain the worksheet that your student will read. After they finish the reading, you will use the worksheet's Raw Score section to mark the number of items they read correctly. Then, calculate the percentage by dividing the number of correct items by the total number of displayed items in the Raw Score field. 

Upload and submit the finished PDF in the learning management system to show that you have done the assignment.

TIP: Please review the Submitting Upload Assessments resource for information on submitting upload assessments based on your LMS.

REMEMBER: If the student does not know the name of a letter, the sound of a letter, or how to say a word, they may say "skip" and continue. This is timed and will stop after one minute. Students are not required to finish each section within a minute. Please do not worry if they are unable to do this.

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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.) often on a worksheet PDF. The student then reads the provided text aloud. The student should read the piece in its entirety, while the adult times and listens for  the first 60 seconds. 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, the parent will provide the raw score (the number the student got correct) and determine the percentage. The student will submit the worksheet in the LMS. After submission, a teacher 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 do Fluency Assessments help monitor progress?

A: Fluency assessments have criteria that allow 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, and 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 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 before 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. Taking the same assessment twice 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 graded by completion, so it is fine if you cannot complete all parts of an assessment. An attempt at a fluency assessment, with a completed worksheet submission, earns 1 point. Always do your best and and 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 of the content. One of the advantages of an asynchronous setting is that the students can have more input into these types of decisions.

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