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Poor reading fluency = no university place.

You want your students to go university. Of course you do. That's why you track them so carefully. So what are you tracking? Well, you track them against standardised scores and grade outcomes in the hope you can predict their SATs results and GCSE and A-level grades, but do you track their reading automaticity and fluency?

Thought not.

In primary schools they track phonic competency until the end of year one (with a check that does not test mastery) and then it's comprehension, comprehension, comprehension, and in most secondary schools (along with the majority of primary schools) they haven't the faintest idea how to track or teach reading; they just get them to do more reading despite the fact that some pupils can't read. No reading automaticity and certainly no reading fluency testing or instruction in sight. Why bother? There are no statutory tests in either area.

But here's a little wake up call: Tim Rasinski's research in the US found a significant correlation between reading fluency and ACT scores (the test scores students need to get a place at a US university). So, if your students can't read a narrative (at their instructional level) with 98% accuracy and at a rate of 146-154 words per minute by the time they finish secondary education then they are not getting into university. And if you want them to stand a chance of a half decent university then 167 wpm is nearer the mark.

What to do?

Start testing them for reading automaticity and fluency now. Establish some coherent automaticity and fluency instruction and then keep testing them until they are automatic and fluent in their reading. And this testing should start in year 2 and keep going all the way through secondary school.

But hey, if you'd rather test for reading comprehension standardised scores and domain specific grade predictions you go ahead...after all, you have already been to university and can probably read fluently.

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