I used to think that reading fluency growth charts were a bad idea.
We got requests to make them all the time and always brushed them off because WPM (correct words per minute rate) is NOT the most important part of fluency.
Let me say that again, emphatically.
SPEED ≠ GOOD FLUENCY
I worried that fluency growth charts would put too much focus on speed and not enough focus on the other, more important aspects of good reading fluency.
But that being said, reading rate is an important part of the whole fluency picture. And it is the easiest part of fluency to track!
For many students, seeing their words per minute score increase with repeated reading passages can be a powerful tool for motivation. I love being able to see clear evidence of improvement in something I’m working on and our students feel the same way.
If you’re looking for passages to use for reading fluency practice, we have a variety of engaging passages (both fiction and non-fiction) available for guided reading levels A-S. You can also find passages for fluency practice from Reading A to Z, Quick Reads from Pearson, or a short excerpt of any grade-level text.
We created some free fluency growth charts for you to use!
How to Use a Fluency Growth Chart:
- Ask the student to start at the beginning and read the passage with good fluency while you run a timer for 1 minute. Be sure to emphasize that the student should do their best reading, not that they should read fast.
- Count the number of correct words read in a minute and color in the score in the Day 1 column.
- Repeat again on Day 2, 3, and 4.
If a student’s scores don’t increase from one day to the next or if they make more mistakes so their correct words per minute are actually less than the previous day, that’s totally normal. Encourage the student to try again tomorrow, paying attention to reading accurately and not worrying about their speed.
However, please remember, if a student is obsessing about their correct words per minute, not seeing growth on their chart, or feeling frustrated about their correct WPM rate, it might be better not to use these charts at all. Fluency growth charts are a tool that works well for some but not all students. Use your best judgment on whether or not a chart like this is right for your student(s) and when or if you should stop using them.
Also, remember that a student can’t read fluently if they can’t read accurately. If a text is too difficult for a student, their accuracy, speed, and fluency will all suffer. Fluency skills are best practiced on a text that is on a student’s independent reading level (meaning they can read 95% or more of the words correctly).
Increased reading speed is the natural consequence of good fluent reading skills in action.
If you’re wondering what the WPM norms are for your grade level, we like these Fluency Standards charts from Reading A to Z and personally favor Rasinski’s chart (he’s our go-to for reading fluency information).
Be sure to download our FREE Fluency Growth Charts and let us know how your students like them!