Assessing Silent Reading Fluency: The Problem of Poor Comprehension

Assessing Silent Reading Fluency: The Problem of Poor Comprehension

First Author: Mark Daniel -- Pearson
Additional authors/chairs: 
Elfrieda Hiebert; Leigh Ann Martin
Keywords: Reading speed, Measurement, Reading comprehension, Poor Comprehenders
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose. A valid test of comprehension-based reading rate should reflect text-processing efficiency and be sensitive to growth. Oral reading fluency (ORF) is growth-sensitive but does not require comprehension. Comprehension-based silent reading rate (Hiebert et al., 2012) is valid only if the student comprehended.

This study investigated the influence of student, task, and situational variables on comprehension in a new online Silent Reading Fluency (SRF) test.

Method. 73 Grade 6 students took SRF and measures of reading ability and motivation. SRF uses self-paced reading of text segments followed by easy “gist” questions, and yields a rate score conditional on comprehension. Students with low (< 90%) or moderate (92%) SRF accuracy later took a 1-on-1 paper version of SRF, ORF, and a reading-behaviors interview. Research questions: Did administration mode or text difficulty affect SRF rate, accuracy, or validity? What were the characteristics of students whose performance was affected? Can invalid rate scores be identified?

Results. All students were very accurate in 1-on-1 testing, but students with low online accuracy slowed down whereas moderately accurate students sped up. Online accuracy was strongly related to consistency of rate across texts. Text difficulty affected rate for accurate readers only.

Discussion. Comprehension (and therefore validity of rate) was strongly affected by administration mode, presumably via situational motivation. Inconsistent rate appears to flag invalid rate scores.

Reference. Hiebert, E. H., Samuels, S. J., & Rasinski, T. (2012). Comprehension-based silent reading rates: What do we know? What do we need to know? Literacy Research and Instruction, 51, 110-124.