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Oral Reading Assessment and

Reading Fluency

Directions for Administration of Reading Passages

• Unnumbered copy of passage (student copy)
• Numbered copy of passage (examiner copy)
• Stopwatch
• Tape recorder
1. Place the unnumbered copy in front of the student.
2. Place the numbered copy in front of you, but shielded so the student cannot see what you record.
3. For each passage, say these specific directions to the student:
“When I say ‘begin,’ start reading aloud at the top of this page. Read across the page (demonstrate by pointing).
Try to read each word. If you come to a word you don’t know, I’ll tell it to you. Be sure to do your best reading.
Are there any questions? (pause).”
4. Say “Begin” and start your stopwatch when the student says the first word. If the student fails to say the first
word of the passage after three seconds, tell her or him the word and mark it as incorrect.†
5. As the student reads, follow along on your copy. Put a slash ( / ) through words read incorrectly.
6. If a student stops or struggles with a word for three seconds, tell the student the word and mark it as incorrect.
7. At the end of one minute, place a bracket ( ] ) after the last word and say “Stop.”

† On rare occasions the student may “speed read” (i.e., read the passage very fast and without
expression). If this occurs, tell the student, “This is not a speed reading test. Begin again, and
be sure to do your best reading.”

1. Administer the Oral Reading Fluency (accuracy) Test

I recommend that you start the assessment by gathering information about the student’s reading level
using a graded word list, such as the SLOSSON Oral Reading Test (SORT). That will give you some
preliminary information about where to begin your assessment using the graded passages.

1. After you have selected the grade-level passages, print two copies of each—one for your student and
one for yourself to record errors as he or she reads.

2. Say: Today you are going to take an Oral Fluency Assessment while you read some passages. You may
not know all the words in the passage, but try your best to read them. Each time, I will time you for one

3. Hand a copy of the passage to your student. Tell your student, I will tell when to start riding. I will
begin timing as soon as you begin reading. After one minute, I will say“stop” so you will know to stop
reading. When you are finished, I will ask you to tell me what you remember from the passage.

4. As your student reads, follow along in your copy of the text, marking words that are read incorrectly
(miscues) using the guidelines, and pronouncing words out loud that the student does not pronounce in 5
seconds. Most fluency assessments provide this guideline: Put a slash ( / ) through words that are read
incorrectly. In addition to this procedure, however, you should try to record the exact miscues or word
substitutions (e.g., phonetic pronunciations or word parts) that are produced by the student during the
oral reading. This will be important in the miscue analysis, and to gather information for instructional

5. At the end of 1 minute, tell the student to stop. Record the last word read by putting a vertical line after
that word. Count the number of words read correctly by subtracting the number of errors from the total
words attempted.

6. Use the scoring guidelines on the following page to record oral reading miscues when marking your
copy of the passage as the student reads.

7. Calculate the student’s oral reading accuracy and fluency on each passage based on the recommended
norms, which are provided later in this document. Based on the oral reading accuracy, continue testing
until you establish both a student’s independent level (e.g., independent level is where the student can
read the passage easily: 96-100% accuracy), as well as the frustration level (e.g., frustration level is the
hard passage where the student reads with less than 90% accuracy). Record miscues to study where the
processes are breaking down and to gain information on the student’s use of the meaning, structure and
visual cues. Calculate the student’s reading fluency (words correct per minute).

2. Record Oral Reading Miscues.

Use the following scoring criteria and notations to record each error (miscue). Write what the child says above
each text word of line of print so that you can conduct a further analysis of the student’s reading skills and
difficulties. It is important when carrying out a miscue that you tape-record it. The ability to rewind the tape and
hear things again is essential for accurate marking and carrying out a running analysis.
Type of
Definition Example

Substitution The child says a word that is different from the

word in the text. dig houp
The dog ran fast all the way home.
Notation: Draw a slash or line is drawn through
the missed word and write the substituted word Child says: The dig ran fast all the way
above the original text word. If the child houp.
pronounces a nonword, record the phonetic
spelling of the nonword above the text.
Omission A word, words or line of text is left out during
the reading.
I love to eat dark chocolate.
Notation. Draw a circle around the omitted
words. If an entire line is omitted, circle the line Child says: I love to eat chocolate.
and count it as one error.
Insertion The child adds a word that is not in the text.
Notation. A caret is used to mark the point The dog jigged merrily with w
the cat
where the word was inserted, and the added while the mouse played the flute.
word is written above the line.
Child says: The dog jigged merrily with
the black cat while the mouse played the
Repetition The child repeats a word or phrase. Repetitions
are not scored as errors, but are recorded.
The snake cried and cried.
Notation. A wavy line is drawn under the
repeated words. Each repetition is recorded Child says: The snake cried and cried and
with an additional line. cried.

Pronounced The student pauses on a word for five seconds

(Teacher or more, so the teacher may tell him/her the P
Assistance) word. The child may also request the teacher’s The greedy son schemed how he might
assistance in identifying a word. [If this get money from his parents to buy a new
happens often, encourage the child to do his/her sports car.
best to attempt the words].

Notation. Write a “T” (Tell) or “P”

(Pronounced) above the word that you
pronounce for the child.
Self- The child makes a miscue, and then self-
Correction corrects. The original mistake is not counted The teacher was very angry with the class.
as an error. Keep track of the number of self-
corrections since this indicates that the child is The taught..teacher was very angry with
monitoring his/her performance. the class.

Notation. “SC” is the notation used to indicate



Figure 48: Sascha’s CBM PRF

3. Interpret the Miscue Data

A reason for recording the oral reading miscues is that it yields valuable information about what
types of phonic patterns or words are known by the child, and what patterns and words are not known. The table
below provides an example of what type of information can be recorded in the analysis chart, including the text
word, miscue (substitution), and the types of word elements that were missed by the student. If the missed word
is an irregular sight word, then simply record “sight word” in the Visual Analysis column. Inspecting the
elements of the words that were missed by the student can provide information about the possible problem areas
and areas of concern. These can be confirmed in further testing. In addition, teachers can examine the miscues
to determine what types of cueing systems that students are relying on when they read, such as:
 Semantics - Meaning (M)--Meaning is part of the cueing system in which the child takes her or his cue
to make sense of text by thinking about the story background, information from pictures, or the meaning
of a sentence. These cues assist in the reading of a word or phrase. The miscues that students make are
meaningful in the context of the sentence or story. They preserve the meaning.

 Syntax or Structure (S)--Structure refers to the structure of language and is often referred to as syntax.
Implicit knowledge of structure helps the reader know if what she or he reads sounds correct. The
miscues that the student makes maintain the syntax of the original text. In other words, the miscues are
from the same parts of speech and language structure as the original word.

 Graphics or Visual (V)--Visual information is related to the look of the letters in a word and the word
itself. A reader uses visual information when she or he studies the beginning sound, word length,
familiar word chunks, and so forth. The substitutions that the student makes are visually similar to the
original text word.

An example of a miscue analysis is provided below, and a table (Table 1) is provided for your assessment
purposes on the examiner’s pages that follow in Appendix A. Record all the miscues substitutions from the
passages in the same table.

Below is the miscue analysis for Sascha, the Grade 2 student, in the example above:

Miscue Analysis

Text Word Miscue Visual Analysis (Beginning, Medial Cueing Systems: 

Substitution/ Vowels, Ending letter patterns)? Miscues that Retain
Mispronunciation Meaning?
1. dragon doggie 2-syllable, VC/V, -on pattern (syntax - YES)
Semantics- NO
2. long Log Sight word , -ong pattern

3. flames Flies VCe, a_e Yes (syntax)

Semantics -YES

4. mouth month -ou dipthong Yes (syntax)

Semantics -NO
5. around round a- prefix Yes (syntax)
Semantics -YES
6. scorched scratched -or (r-controlled vowel) Yes (syntax)
Semantics -NO
7. dragon doggie 2-syllable; -on pattern Syntax – Yes
Syntax – NO
8. village villain 2nd syllable; -age pattern (e.g., Syntax – Yes
cabbage, village, millage; pillage); Syntax – NO
9. to at Sight Word Yes

Here is a second example of another miscue analysis from another student.

Miscue Analysis

Text Word Miscue Visual Analysis (Beginning, Medial  Miscues

Substitution/ Vowels, Ending letter patterns)? that Retain
Mispronunciation Meaning?
Temper Temple 2-syllable, VC/CV, - r-controlled
vowel, er

Biscuit Biscotti Sight word (has first syllable correct 

with CVC)

Careened Corn -ee vowel team, multi-syllabic word

Barked Bake -ar r-controlled vowel; -ed suffix

Vision Visit -ion ending

Bite Bit VCe (i_e) 

Want Where Sight Word

4. Calculate the Student’s Oral Reading Accuracy

Teachers need to calculate the student’s oral reading accuracy, and use that information to identify an
appropriate instructional level, and toplace the student in appropriate reading materials. Generally, the
guidelines recommend:

• Independent Reading Level/Easy: (96-100% oral reading accuracy)

• Instructional: 90-95% accuracy
• Frustration Level: < 90%

Continue testing until you establish the level that is the “best fit” for the child’s reading instruction (highest read
passage that is at instructional level), and record that level. Further, continue testing until you establish the
frustration level (below instructional level, or < 89%).

1) Accuracy Formula: The formula for the oral reading accuracy is the number of words correctly read
by the total number of words attempted (in the passage): # of words read correctly ÷ total words. For
example, if the student read 85 words correctly in a 92 word passage, the oral reading accuracy = 92.4%
(85/92 = 92%). Another example: student reads 145 words correctly in a total passage with 154 words
(145/154)= 92.9% or 93%.

Total words – errors = Total words read correctly (or simply count the number of words read correctly)

oral reading accuracy percent = Number of words read correctly ÷ total words

Teachers need to determine the student’s instructional reading level (the student is able to read a selected
passage with 90 percent to 95 percent accuracy) in order to plan appropriate instruction using appropriate
It is also helpful for teachers to know the student’s independent reading level (the student is able to read a
selected passage with 96 percent to 100 percent accuracy) for each student. This will help teachers provide
students with appropriate books that can be read independently.

Continue testing up by presenting more difficult passages until you reach the student’s frustration level, which
is less than 90% accuracy (0-89%). Realize that the topic familiarity may affect oral reading accuracy, so use
more than one passage to confirm the student’s frustration level.

5. Analyze the Student’s Oral Reading Prosody

Prosody, which is a part of oral reading fluency, includes three features: expression (phrasing), accuracy, and
fluency. The rubric below helps teachers evaluate the tonal, phrasing or the expressive qualities of the child’s
oral reading.
Hasbrouck and Tindal Fluency Norms

Oral fluency norms can also help you determine where your students are performing against fluency
standards and goals for their grade level and the time of year. These are provided on the next page (and the
angel website). To use the norms to determine whether your student is reading above, below, or on grade
1. Take 2-3 measures of the student’s fluency at a particular grade level to calculate the median fluency
2. Find the grade level of your student on the chart. Then look at the time of year during which the testing
took place.
2. Compare the student’s WCPM (the median score from the three passages read for baseline) with the three
numbers given for that grade level and time of year. Here’s a breakdown of the numbers:
• The top number shows the fluency measure of students who are reading above grade-level
expectations. They are reading at or above the 90th percentile. For example, a fourth-grade student
who reads 170 WCPM during the middle of the year reads approximately at the 90th percentile. The
90th percentile is significantly above average.
• Students who are reading at or above the 50th percentile in reading fluency have good comprehension
of grade-level text. The 50th percentile is the average, or on grade level.
• The bottom number shows the fluency measure of students who are reading at or above the 10th
percentile in reading fluency. The 10th percentile is significantly below the average, and students who
read at this level are in immediate need of intervention.
3. If you have conducted a 1-minute timing, then the correct rate is represented by the following formula
(e.g., difference between the total words read minus the number of errors):

1- minute sample

Total words read – errors = words correct per minute. (EX: 62 words read – 5 errors = 57 wcpm)

3. If you timed the student while they read an entire passage rather than stopped the student at 1 minute,
then the formula below can be applied to calculate the student’s oral reading fluency:

Passage reading that is not a 1-minute sample, but that is timed to a later point in the passage:

Total words read – errors = 58 words – 4 errors

Number of total seconds ÷ 60 (to convert to minutes) 64 seconds ÷ 60

= 54 words = 54 X 60 = 50.625 wcpm (words correct per minute)

64 64

6. Administer an Oral Comprehension Assessment or Retelling of the Text Just Read

Continue the assessment by asking the student to answer story structure questions, or ask them to retell the text portion that was just read orally. Say to the student:
If you choose to ask questions, ask the questions in the story column and score in the third column. In you administer the story retelling, say to the student: Please
tell me what you understand happened in the story that you just read to me. Pretend that I did not hear you read the text and that you want me to know
what happened. Tell me everything that you remember. Score 2 points for each story part that they include in the retelling; if the item is only partly recalled,
score 1 point. Score 0 points if no information is recalled.

Student’s Name Date: Source/Book:

Story Questions (left) or Student’s Free Retelling: Record
Story Questions Points 2 pts
Story Structure Element Prompted Retelling what student says for each story (2, 1, 0)
Points (1 point each) element named at left
1. Setting: Where Where did the story take place?
2. When When did the story happen?
3. Main Character: 1st Who were the character(s) in the story
2nd character Anyone else?
4. Problem/ What was the main character’s problem or challenge in
Challenge? (facing MC) the story?
5. Goal/Motive What does ____ (main character) want to do?
How did _____ feel? (internal response)
6. Events – Event 1 What happened in the story? 1)
7. Event 2 What happened 1st? 2)
8. Event 3 2nd?
Event 4 3rd? 3)
anything else? 4)
9. Solution How was the problem/challenge solved? What did
_______ do to solve the problem?
Total points above /10 Total Parts Named Above ____
= % /10 = _____ %
10. (Optional) Theme What was the author trying to tell us? What does ____
learn at the end of the story?
Column 3: Story Parts Recalled
1. ____ % of Story Parts in Free Recall = [ # of parts named above in column 2 _______ /10 = ______ % of total story parts recalled [make adjustments
based on total possible parts]
2. ____ % of points in free recall = # of points in column 3 = ____/20 [increase points if there are more story events, or if you with to evaluate theme]

% Points or Parts answered correctly given Story Questions or Prompted Retelling __________

Section 2. Analysis and Instruction

The analysis of an oral reading record begins by identifying which cueing system the child uses
most often. If the child is making substitutions in text that are based totally on one cueing
system, then additional instructions to develop awareness and use of other cueing systems would
be the next step.

A good reader will use visual, meaning, and structure cues flexibly and strategically when trying
to determine an unknown word during reading.

Consideration should be given to the accuracy and self-correction rates of the child as she/he
reads. If a child makes multiple errors and shows little effort to self-correct, the teacher may
wonder if the child has a view of reading as word calling, rather than making meaning or as a
process of communicating ideas. Another possible scenario is the child who stops to work on
every word for accuracy, using only visual cues to determine the word, rather than flexibly using
meaning and structure cues. A third way to analyze the approximations that the child made while
reading is to categorize the types of words that created difficulty for the child. Are the words
names or technical terms that are connected to the content and may reflect a lack of background
knowledge about the text.

1. Overall Analysis
a. Teach the phonic and multi-syllabic elements that the student lacks to improve
oral reading accuracy.
b. Design a program to develop and support the student’s oral reading fluency
c. Develop the student’s reading comprehension for story elements


If a student scores poorly on the oral reading screening, or if the teacher has some other cause for
concern such as poor performance in class or on another assessment, the teacher should take a
more careful look at the student's strengths and needs. The student could be deficient in a variety
of reading skills or in related areas like phonics skills, multi-syllabic words, vocabulary and
background knowledge, so administering some informal diagnostic assessments would be
helpful for designing effective instruction, providing evidence of the need for a reading
specialist, or referring the student for further evaluation.

2. Graph Performance

Graph three days of baseline to establish the student’s median level of reading fluency. Based on
the desired fluency criteria for the student’s reading level, establish an aim goal for the student at
a particular point in time (e.g., 3 month retesting, end-of-year). Designate the aim goal on the
graph with a star. Draw a trend line from the median level of performance during baseline to the
aimgoal. This is the

Typically, if a student's fluency level is low, but word reading accuracy in grade-level texts is
adequate, a teacher can place the student in an intervention focused just on improving fluency.
But if diagnostic assessments indicate other areas of weakness, a more comprehensive
intervention may need to be developed. (8)

Figure 47: Sascha’s CBM PRF Graph

Correctly Read Words Per Minute

120 Sascha’s
100 trend-line
40 Sascha’s
20 goal-line
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Weeks of Instruction

Monitor student progress – Test Weekly or Biweekly

If a student's diagnostic assessment reveals concerns about one or more areas of reading,
additional, targeted instruction should begin right away. WCPM procedures can be used to
monitor the student's progress. Many educators have found WCPM to be a better tool for
monitoring students' progress than traditional standardized measures that typically are time-
consuming, expensive, only administered infrequently, and of limited instructional utility (Good,
Simmons, and Kame'enui, 2001; Tindal and Marston, 1990).

For students in Tier 2 and Tier 3 programs, progress monitoring should be done frequently,
perhaps once per week or twice monthly for as long as students require supplemental instruction.
Progress monitoring should be done as often as once per week for students who are reading more
than one year below level and receiving intensive intervention services, including special
education (Tier 3 students). This regular monitoring assures that if the intervention is not
working well, it can be modified.

When monitoring the progress of these struggling readers, the standard procedures are expanded
by graphing the student's WCPM scores. A progress monitoring graph, for perhaps a grading
period or a trimester, is created for each student. Teachers can use the average weekly
improvement (AWI) data in the norms table to select an ambitious, yet reasonable, instructional
goal; for example, a fourth-grader's goal could be to improve by 15 WCPM over 10 weeks of
intensive instruction. An aim line is placed on the graph to represent the progress a student must
make to achieve a preset fluency goal. Each time the student is assessed, that score is added to
the graph.

Use Decision Rules

If three or more consecutive scores fall below the aim line, the teacher must consider
adjusting the instructional program (Hasbrouck et al., 1999).

Teachers should also consider having the students record their own WCPM scores on their
graphs — it increases their motivation and investment in their reading progress (Shinn, 1998).

These procedures for screening, diagnosing, and progress monitoring have been available for
many years, but have not been widely used in schools (Hasbrouck, et al., 1999). This situation
will likely change as educators become more aware of the importance of preventing reading
difficulties and providing intensive intervention as soon as a concern is noted.

Using fluency norms to set appropriate goals for student improvement and to measure progress
toward those goals can be a powerful and efficient tool to help educators make well-informed
and timely decisions about the instructional needs of their students, particularly the lowest
performing, struggling readers.

APPENDIX 1 Running Record Summary Sheet

Examiner Name ____________________________________________________________

Student Name
Age ___________ Level _________________________________ Date ____ / ____ / ____

Reading Accuracy Data

Name of Test Used ____________________

Percent Hasbrouck&
Circle Error Tindal
Reading Oral Fluency Fluency Comprehension %
Accuracy 2 Rate Fluency
Level(s) Accuracy Level (cwpm) Norms – Rating
Tested Indep Inst GL & % (see

cwpm = correct words per minute

Reading Accuracy (column) Observable Reading Behaviors (check off/

Based on accuracy the passage Indep/Easy: (96–100%) notes)
was Self-Corrects:
Sounds out words:
Instructional: (90 - Rereads
Frust: (less than 90%) Fingerpoints:

Reading Fluency (column)

Fluency Rate = _____________ correct Based on Tindal and Hasbrouck, this rate
words per minute was
Grade Level_________ %

Notes and Comments: