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Scoring Fluency: Considerations and Suggestions

The scoring of oral reading fluency has many metrics and methods that go beyond the scope or pretense of these general set of guidelines.

Furthermore, your experience as reading instruction professionals may determine whether you have already arrived at a method that works for you and your students. Feel free to align these guidelines to your preferred practice. If you are a newcomer to the field of error analysis, we strongly recommend that you seek out the research-based methods that work for you. If you are not sure what this entails, please consult with a reading specialist, administrator, or fellow teachers for further direction. You can also contact us for more individualized support as an extension of your collaborative team.

Selecting Miscues

There are numerous ways a reader can err while they scan a page or screen of printed text. These can range from Graphophonic to Semantic, and some, like insertions for some, may not really be errors. Read With Me has chosen the following behaviours, or miscues that can be recorded.

Graphophonic errors are 'sounds wrong' errors. Another term often used is 'mispronounced'. These miscues involve a student's difficulty or inaccuracy decoding phonemic patterns. If a student cannot decode long vowels, or consonant blends; or if the error involves a student's unfamiliarity with a phoneme, mark the error as graphophonic.

Word written: 'please'; Word produced: 'place'
Word written: 'although'; Word produced: 'altough', as in 'tuff'.

Subcategories of graphophonic errors can include:

Likewise, if the miscue is not a real word, or a word that does not satisfy the semantic meaning of the sentence of phrase, then it is most probably a graphophonic error.

Semantic Errors:
Semantic errors are errors in which the student reads a word that satisfies the meaning of the phrase, but is not the actual word presented.

Written phrase: "After the hurricane the country was flooded."
Student Reads: "After the hurricane the city was flooded."

The student misinterpreted the word to satisfy the context they had constructed as they were reading. These errors, if multiple, can erode a student's overall comprehension and must be recorded.

Semantic errors could also include substitutions.

Substitutions: A substitution occurs when a student reads another word instead

Skipped Words:
Sometimes a student will skip over a word. This behavior is not uncommon, even in proficient readers. If a student's errors consist mainly of skipped words, suggest to them that they take a bit more time. In other words, reaching a high Correct Words Per Minute score should not take precedence over decent accuracy while decoding, and skipped words can have a detrimental effect on comprehension and lead to frustration.

Written sentence: "The ocean waves glimmered in the sunlight..."
Student reads: "The ocean waves glimmered in sunlight..."

Teacher Help Miscue:
Some oral reading assessments suggest telling a student a word if they pause or struggle with a word after about 3 seconds. The teacher would mark this as either a skip, or a Teacher help, if available.

Others suggest that no error be corrected by the teacher. Telling the student the word interferes with the measure of a student's independent ability, the argue. If a student is struggling to decode or figure out a word, under this practice, it is advisable to simply tell the student to continue, or keep going. It may also help to clarify this from the start.

Whatever approach you or your school decide to take, make sure that it is applied across the board.

Repeated Word:

A student may repeat a word such as:

Summertime is the ideal time to visit our...our national parks.

It is not recommended to score these as errors, unless it is a consistent behavior that needs to be examined and quantified by a reading specialist or speech therapist. This is a great example of a behavior that is appropriate in the student's Notes.

Self Correction:
Frequently, a reader will misread a word but self-correct quickly after. It is best to mark this as a self-correct instead of marking it as missed. Students may also self-correct when seeing the same word the second time. Still mark the time they misread the word, but mark the second, correctly read time as a self-correct.

Articulation and Accent:

Consideration should be given to a student's articulation and/or accent. It is inadvisable to register a miscue if the student has articulation problems, or has been referred to speech pathologists, etc. The same for English Language Learners, if the target language is English. Professional judgement should be used when scoring and familiarity with a reader's culture, dialect, speech patterns, etc. will make these decisions easier. Here are some examples of errors that should not be marked:

Students who consistently pronounce:
Students who pronounce /tower/ as /toweh/
In some cases, omitting an /s/ at the end of a plural

In general, it's always best to familiarize yourself with your student group in terms of special needs, English Language status, or speech pathologies before assessing.

If you are unsure whether a student has issues pronouncing words, or decoding phonemes, it helps to look for patterns. Does the student produce the same sound when confronted with the same spelling pattern on a consistent basis?

For example:

A student might read all r-controlled syllables (/er/, /ar/, /ur/ sounds) as "Ah":
"pahk " for park
"jehk" for jerk
"rollah" for roller

Inserted Words:
Some reading assessments take great interest in inserted words. If a student pronounces a word between two other words, it is considered an insertion, which is recorded and marked as a miscue. Other programs that focus solely on decoding ignore this and don't count such behavior as an error against the student. Under this view, such an insertion is cannot be attributed to the decoding of phonemes, but on cognitive behaviour beyond the scope of a fluency and accuracy test.

Currently, Read With Me supports the second option, and insertion of words is not an available option under miscue. If it were, it would skew results. However, we recognize that many teachers like to keep a record of words that were inserted, for this we suggest the user take advantage of the video/audio recording feature of the iPad or Android apps to hear what was actually read, and add them to a student's Notes in their profile.

Other considerations