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Repeated reading versus continuous reading: influences on reading fluency and comprehension.

The recent focus on scientifically based reading instruction has led many school districts to consider reading development in terms of the five dimensions that organized the National Reading Panel Reports of the Subgroups (NRP, 2000): phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Of all of these components, the panel concluded that we know the least about reading fluency. In studies of reading interventions, fluency is among the most difficult of the dimensions to remediate for children with reading disabilities (Kamps & Greenwood, 2005; Lovett & Steinbach, 1997; O'Connor et al., 2002; Torgesen, 2000). Fluency comprises several features, including rate of reading, prosody, and attention to punctuation, all of which intersect to bring words on a page to life. In this research, we focused on one aspect of fluency: the rate at which students read aloud.

Reading rate is important because students who recognize words effortlessly should be able to devote more attention to reading comprehension (LaBerge & Samuels, 1974; Perfetti, 1985). In theories regarding information processing and verbal efficiency, improving lower level processes (speed and accuracy of reading words) frees students to devote their attention to understanding the meaning of text. Therefore, the motivation for improving reading rate is the possibility that increased rate might enable improved reading comprehension.

Evidence for this assertion comes primarily from studies of correlations and multiple regressions, in which rate of reading was strongly related to reading comprehension when the two aspects of reading were measured concurrently. Individuals skilled in reading comprehension read words faster than individuals with poor reading comprehension (Jenkins, Fuchs, van den Broek, Espin, & Deno, 2003; Perfetti & Hogaboam, 1975) and the relationship between reading rate and reading comprehension has been strong in most studies throughout the elementary school years (O'Connor et al., 2002; Rupley, Willson, & Nichols, 1998; Spear-Swerling & Sternberg, 1994), with correlations in the range of .6 to .9. Furthermore, when accuracy and rate of reading are considered together, reading rate accounts for significant variance in reading comprehension, even after the ability to read words accurately in lists (Jenkins et al.; Schatschneider, 2004) and prosody or reading expression (Schwanenflugel, Hamilton, Kuhn, Wisenbaker, & Stahl, 2004) have been accounted for.

Although it is a common assumption that reading rate influences comprehension, little evidence exists to support a causal connection. O'Shea, Sindelar, and O'Shea (1985) suggest that for rate improvement to influence comprehension, students need to be told to attend to the meaning of what they read; however, their study used average readers as participants, most of whom were already fluent. It is difficult with the existing body of studies to explore causal relations between increased rate and reading comprehension because many experimental studies of reading rate are too short in duration to generate generalized improvements in fluency to new text. Of the 15 fluency studies in Meyer and Felton's (1999) review, only 3 included more than 20 sessions, and one of these (Herman, 1985) did not measure reading comprehension. In order for causal connections between rate of reading and reading comprehension to be explored, experiments would need to focus on increasing reading rate sufficiently to generalize to unpracticed text and measure changes in other aspects of reading.


A student's reading rate can be influenced by many contextual features; there is ample evidence that one of the major differences between good and poor readers is the amount of time they spend reading. Unfortunately, Allington (1977) and Biemiller (1977-1978) found that the students who need the most practice in reading spend the least amount of time reading in school. Researchers have reported that good readers are exposed to anywhere from two to ten times as many words in print as poor readers (Adams, 1990). These studies suggest that an increase in practice time should be one feature of interventions to improve the reading rate of poor readers.

Moreover, students should practice reading connected text, such as stories and books, because research has shown that decoding practice by itself, although it improves word recognition, does not improve reading rate necessarily (Torgesen, Wagner, & Rashotte, 1997). Studies in which students learned to recognize words quickly in lists have also produced inconsistent findings for fluency in context. Levy, Abello, and Lysynchuk (1997) taught children to recognize words faster using a combination of articulatory awareness and manipulating letters and sounds within syllables. This kind of instruction yielded faster reading of individual words and some students transferred improved rate of reading single words to oral reading of connected text, but other studies of isolated word practice have generated less favorable results for reading in context (Fleischer, Jenkins, & Pany, 1979). It is likely, then, that to improve reading rate, students need to spend ample time reading connected text.

Although time spent practicing is likely to be one determinant of growth in reading rate, even when time is held constant, there are theoretical reasons to suppose that differences in types of practice could influence differences in growth across the component skills of reading. Few studies have compared methods of practice reading aloud in which time was controlled.


Because students with reading difficulties have trouble recognizing words accurately (Rack, Snowling, & Olson, 1992) as well as recognizing them quickly (Jenkins et al., 2003), the most commonly recommended procedure for improving the reading rate of students with reading disabilities is repeated reading (NRP, 2000), in which students read a passage several times until achieving improvement in the rate of reading (usually 25% increase or more; Samuels, 1979). Herman (1985) found that repeated reading not only increased rate, but also increased accuracy of word recognition due to several opportunities to read the same words. Young, Bowers, and MacKinnon (1996) also found improvement in word recognition as well as rate through repeated reading, but only when students were assisted with their errors during practice. As students read the same passage several times with corrective feedback, students read the words in the practiced passage more accurately and quickly (Dowhower, 1987; Sindelar, Monda, & O'Shea, 1990).

In short-term experiments, repeated reading has been found to yield improved comprehension of the particular passage that was read (e.g., Levy et al., 1997), although comprehension of new texts did not improve. Faulkner and Levy (1999) used repeated reading with students across skill levels and proposed that the benefits of repeated reading for low-skilled students may be limited to word-level skills, whereas higher skilled students would improve in reading comprehension as well as rate.

Because of its prevalence in special education (Chard, Vaughn, & Tyler, 2002; Herman, 1985; Mercer, Campbell, Miller, Mercer, & Lane, 2000), we selected repeated reading as one practice condition in the current study. With repeated exposure to the sets of words in the passages, we expected students to improve in word identification, as well as in reading rate.

Alternatively, researchers have suggested that it is increased reading across a range of materials that generates rate improvements, rather than the repetition of text (e.g., Allington, 2001; Kuhn, 2004). However, such reports rarely show data to demonstrate this advantage. Theoretically, several features of continuous reading could improve reading rate and comprehension. First, practice is necessary for rate improvement, and continuous reading that is equivalent to the time students spend in repeated reading could generate similar results in reading rate. Continuous reading is also more closely aligned with the reading that good readers do outside of school. Students who read a wide range of material are exposed to a broader number of unique words with meanings introduced across multiple contexts, which could influence growth in vocabulary, in turn influencing overall comprehension. We selected continuous reading as the second experimental condition. With an equivalent amount of time spent reading a wide range of text, we expected that students might grow more in vocabulary and comprehension than those in the repeated reading treatment.

Each method of practice described above has theoretical linkages to specific components of reading; it is also possible, however, that practice procedures could generate different outcomes for students at different stages of reading development, as suggested by Faulkner and Levy (1999). For example, first graders who are just beginning to understand the alphabetic principle often read too few words to benefit from practice in reading fluency (Juel & Minden-Cupp, 2000). Nevertheless, by second grade poor fluency is considered by some researchers to bode ill for future reading development (Good, Simmons, & Kame'enui, 2001). Teachers of second graders often include practice reading aloud in general class instruction (O'Connor, Fulmer, Harty, & Bell, 2005). By fourth grade, when reading disability has been formally diagnosed for many students with learning disabilities, so many components of reading are lagging seriously that a focus on fluency alone may be counterproductive. Moreover, by fourth grade classroom instruction emphasizes silent reading comprehension more than rate of reading aloud. Because students might respond differentially across grades, we included poor readers in second and fourth grade in the current experiment.

Although evidence is lacking on the relative effects of the two approaches for poor readers and students with learning disabilities, we hypothesized that repeated reading would have greater impact on improvements in rate and word recognition, and that continuous reading would have more impact on understanding word meanings and comprehension. Furthermore, we expected younger poor readers to make greater gains in reading rate than older students whose reading disabilities were more entrenched and varied.

From reviews of approaches to building fluency, several general recommendations are supported consistently (Kuhn & Stahl, 2003; Mercer & Campbell, 1998; Meyer & Felton, 1999; Wolf & Bowers, 1999). Students should (a) practice building rate for 10 to 20 min per day over several weeks, (b) engage in reading aloud (vs. listening), and (c) receive feedback on errors. In line with these recommendations, both treatments included 15-min practice sessions three times per week for 14 weeks, and students read aloud to an adult listener who provided help for hard words and error corrections.

We wanted to know whether practice improving reading rate, without a similar instructional focus on word recognition, word meanings, and text meanings, would generate generalized improvement in reading comprehension. We focused student practice opportunities on reading aloud in text without additional instruction in word analysis or comprehension. Of course, the possibility of a causal connection between improvement in reading rate and comprehension of text can only be explored if reading rate can be improved and the reading components of interest (i.e., word recognition, vocabulary, and comprehension of sentences and passages) measured.

The overall question investigated in this study was: How does repeated reading compare with continuous reading for improving the reading rate and overall reading outcomes of struggling readers? Specifically:

* Will 15 min of practice reading aloud, 3 days per week for 14 weeks, improve growth in reading rate?

* Is either method (repeated or continuous reading) better than the other for improving rate?

* Do poor readers in second and fourth grade respond differentially to practice condition?

* What is the effect of practice condition on growth in word identification, vocabulary, and reading comprehension?



We screened students in eight classes (four classes each in second and fourth grades) to identify 6 students per class who met eligibility criteria for struggling readers. To meet these criteria, second graders read between 12 to 45 words per minute (wpm) on grade level passages, and fourth graders between 20 to 80 wpm. Students also needed to score greater than 69 (standardized score) on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-III (PPVT-III; Dunn, Dunn, & Dunn, 1997), a test of receptive English language. The criteria were established to ensure that selected students could read enough words to benefit from practice reading aloud and would have English language ability sufficiently high to benefit from reading text in English. Among the 48 low-skilled readers selected to participate, 50% were European American, 29% Hispanic or Mexican American, 18% African American, and 3% other, which mirrors ethnicity statistics in the local school district. We also monitored the progress of two average readers in each class to gain a sense of the average growth in reading rate and other reading skills of students who did not require reading interventions.

Attrition due to extended illness (3 students), accidents (2 students), and mobility (6 students) left 37 poor readers who continued through the end of the study (16 second graders and 21 fourth graders). Table 1 shows means and standard deviations for students who completed the study. Although attrition rates were similar across treatments, proportionally more of the students who left the study were second graders (8 students), male (7 students), or Hispanic (5 students).

Students With Learning Disabilities. Of the 37 low-skilled students who completed the study, 16 were eligible for special education in the learning disabilities (LD) category. Fourteen of these students were in fourth grade (two thirds of the fourth grade sample) and were distributed evenly across the three low-skilled conditions. In second grade, 1 student with LD was male and 1 female. In fourth grade, 9 were male and three female.

English Language Learners. Seven students who met the selection criteria spoke English as their second language, all with Spanish as their first language. As suggested by the receptive language criteria above, they ranked as Advanced or Proficient on the state-administered test of English language development. One of these students also met eligibility criteria for LD.


The six struggling readers per class were blocked into trios based on their fluency scores on the Gray Oral Reading Tests, Fourth Edition (GORT4, Wiederholt & Bryant, 2001), which form a composite from accuracy and rate of reading. Students in each trio were randomly assigned to one of two types of read-aloud practice or to a control condition, in which students received any school-provided support to which they were entitled. The growth in reading rate of all 6 students per class was monitored weekly, but only 4 per class received interventions.

Intervention. The two interventions, conducted one-on-one, involved practice reading aloud under repeated or continuous reading conditions. Students in the treatments received 15 min of practice reading aloud to a trained adult listener three times per week for 14 weeks, using one of two methods: repeated reading (RR), in which students read each page of text three times, for a total of 15 min; or continuous reading (CR), in which students read more pages during the 15 min from the same book as the repeated readers, but without repeating pages. The first and second author selected reading materials for each pair in the interventions based on students' instruction reading level (88%-94% accuracy). The first and second authors and two trained tutors hired for this research acted as adult listeners, and each assisted equal numbers of students across the two treatments.

Treatment Fidelity. The first author trained tutors in a 2-hr session introducing the materials, stopwatches, and daily logs; tutors practiced implementing each condition and recording information in pairs. To establish treatment integrity, we staggered implementation across classes and schools. The first author observed the tutors during all of their sessions with students for the first 2 treatment days, in which several recording errors were observed and corrected. Thereafter, we observed tutors weekly throughout the study. Fidelity to treatment condition was consistently high; we found no failure to implement the assigned treatment or to use the materials selected for the treated pair within each trio in any of the observations.

The research team designed a daily log that listed each student participant, the student's treatment condition, and the reading material to be used that week. Each session, the tutors recorded on these logs pages read and time spent reading. Tutors also recorded the number of words provided or corrected as tallies by session. The only deviations between observed behavior and tutor logging of information was with time spent reading (which in 16% of observations deviated by 1 rain, and in 2% deviated by 2 min) and number of words provided (which was underrecorded by one of the four tutors in 8% of observations). Two of the tutors needed additional training on managing student behavior.

The Control Condition. Students in the control group received no intervention from the research staff; however, 5 students in the control received services through special education and 2 second graders participated in Title I supplemental small group reading in their school. Special education for students with LD was a pullout service in 6 of the classes, and replaced part of the general class instructional reading time. Title I services were provided as in-class flexible group instruction led by a specialist. The number of students in the treatments who received these services was similar (6 and 6, respectively by special education in RR and CR, and 2 and 3, respectively by Tide I). Because the students in all conditions were drawn from within each class, differences in general and special education teaching skills were controlled.

Measures. We used alternate forms of three types of reading measures as pretests, midway tests, and posttests to assess the constructs of interest: reading rate, word identification, and reading comprehension of sentences and passages. We used a test of receptive language (PPVT-III) to assess changes in vocabulary from pretest to posttest. The first and second authors administered the pretests, and a trained doctoral student blind to conditions administered the midtests and posttests. We began interventions in six classes in January and in the remaining two classes in February.

The PPVT-III (Dunn et al., 1997) is a norm-referenced test of receptive vocabulary. Each item consists of four black-and-white drawings arranged on a page. Participants were asked to identify, either by pointing or by saying the number that corresponds to the drawing, which of the four illustrations best represented the stimulus word presented orally by the examiner. Reliability (internal consistency) using coefficient alpha for students between the ages of 7 and 11 ranged from .95 to .96, with split-half reliability between .92 and .96.

The Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests-NU (WRMT-NU; Woodcock, 1998) Word Identification subtest required students to identify words in isolation; the Word Attack subtest required students to apply phonic and structural analysis to pronounce pseudowords; and the Passage Comprehension subtest required students to read one or two sentences silently with a missing word signaled by a blank space, and to supply a word that made sense in that space. Split-half reliability estimates for Grades 2 to 5 on these subtests ranged from .89 to .92.

The GORT4 (Wiederholt & Bryant, 2001) assesses students' reading accuracy, rate, and comprehension on passages of 50 to 200 words in length. Students orally read increasingly difficult passages, while the examiner noted errors and miscues. Following oral reading, the examiner asked passage-dependent comprehension questions that tapped a range of comprehension types, from literal to inferential. The reliability of the GORT4 at ages 8 to 10 ranged from .89 to .91.

Oral Reading Rate. Because it is possible that students will read faster if they know they will not be held accountable for comprehension (O'Shea et al., 1985), we also measured rate without asking questions after the reading. The Analytic Reading Inventory (ARI; Woods & Moe, 1999) is an informal reading inventory that consists of a series of three alternate forms of graded passages from primer through Grade 9. Students read aloud a passage one grade level below their grade placement while the examiner noted errors and marked the point in the passage the student reached in 1 min. We used the number of words read correctly in 1 min as our measure of fluency.

Statistical Analysis. We used a mixed model (also referred to as hierarchical linear modeling, HLM; Bryk & Raudenbush, 1992; Willett, Singer, & Martin, 1998) with repeated measures to determine if significant differences in level and growth emerged between conditions. The method overcomes some of the limitation of traditional ANOVA repeated measures because it does not assume that an equal number of repeated observations are taken for each individual or that all individuals are measured at the same time point. More importantly, HLM does not require that missing data be ignored and provides a valid means to address standard errors. In contrast to traditional ANOVA repeated measures where significance is tested against the residual error, the test of fixed effects in mixed models is against the appropriate error terms as determined by the model specification. In the present study, we found that the repeated measures model--an autoregressive covariance structure within participants--best captured the repeated measures model.


Table 1 shows the descriptive data for each of the variables for each of the four conditions, in terms of number of participating students, means, and standard deviations for pretests and posttests. Table 2 shows descriptive data separately for the students with LD. Figures 1 and 2 show fluency and comprehension for each condition across the three time points for entire groups and for students with LD separately.



No significant differences emerged between treatment conditions as a function of grade placement, [chi square] (3, N = 48) = .37, p = .95, ethnicity, [chi square] (9, N = 48) = 10.17, p = .39, or gender, [chi square] (1, N = 48) = 1.85, p = .60. No significant differences emerged between treatment conditions in chronological age, F(3,44) = .30, p = .82, or on standard scores for the PPVT-III, F(3,43) = .42, p = .82. Due to selection criteria for inclusion in the experiment, significant differences emerged on norm referenced WRMT-NU scores for Word Identification, F(3,43) = 4.84, p < .01, MSE = 79.05, [chi square] = .25., Word Attack, F(3,43) = 5.46, p < .01, MSE = 72.17, [chi square] =.21, and Reading Comprehension F(3,43) = 3.85, p < .05, MSE = 55.70, [chi square] = .25, and the GORT4, F(3,44) = 7.02, p < .001, MSE = 164.94, [chi square] = .32, indicating that as expected, average readers (Condition 4) outperformed the three poor reader conditions. The three poor reader groups were statistically comparable on reading measures at the beginning of the study.


A series of mixed model repeated measures analyses were computed on GORT4 and ARI fluency measures. To simplify the analysis, we report only our analysis of the level of performance at Wave 3 (intercept values for the last testing wave) and slopes across the three testing waves. The level of performance and slopes are reported in Table 3. A series of contrasts compared RR and CR with controls and with each other. Table 3 shows the F-ratios for these comparisons. Due to the number of comparisons, we set the alpha at .01, although doing so increases the chance of Type II error. The results show that the rate of growth for the two treatments was significantly faster than in the Control condition of poor readers on measures of fluency. However, no differences emerged between RR and CR on intercept or growth estimates (all p > .01).

To determine whether the second and fourth graders responded differentially to practice conditions, we tested whether a differential response (grade x treatment x testing wave) emerged as a function of grade level (second vs. fourth graders). No significant two way or three-way interactions emerged (all p > .01), suggesting that students across grade levels grew at similar rates.

Last, we compared the effects of practice condition on growth in word identification, passage comprehension, and vocabulary. As with fluency, rate of growth for the two treatments was significantly faster than that of the poor reader control condition on word identification and passage comprehension; however, no differences across conditions were found on vocabulary growth.

In general the results show that slopes of improvement in reading rate, word identification, and comprehension were steeper in the two treatment conditions than the Control condition of poor readers. However, no significant differences emerged between repeated and continuous reading across dependent measures. Further, the results suggest that no significant differential responses occurred as a function of grade.


Table 4 shows the effect sizes (ES) comparing the slopes of various treatment conditions with each other. For example, Condition 1 Wave 3 (RR) was compared to slope values in Condition 2 (CR). (Minus values favor the second condition in the comparison--in this case CR--whereas positive values favor the first condition; thus, the positive .972 ES in column 2 favors RR.) Of particular interest in our analysis of ES was the slope of improvement for Conditions 1 and 2. Using Cohen's (1988) criterion of .80 as a high ES, .50 as a moderate ES, and .20 as a low ES, Table 4 shows three important findings. First, when comparisons were made between repeated and continuous reading, none of the ES across measures exceeded .25. Second, when repeated reading was compared to the Control condition on slope of performance, moderate to high ES were in favor of repeated reading on all measures. Finally, when continuous reading was compared to the Control condition of poor readers on slope of performance, moderate to high ES were in favor of continuous reading on measures of fluency, word identification, and passage comprehension, but only a low ES was found on vocabulary.


Students in all four groups improved in overall levels of performance during the 14 weeks of the study. As expected, the average readers yielded higher performance levels at the end of the study than students in Conditions 1 to 3 (the poorest readers per class); however, the average readers showed no advantage in growth when compared to the treated groups of poor readers (see Tables 1 and 3). For the experimental conditions, the students in RR and CR showed greater growth than students in the poor reader control on measures of reading rate and reading comprehension (ES's near 1.0 for each treatment over the control). However, no significant differences in level of performance or growth estimates were found between the poor reader conditions on measures of word attack or vocabulary, which were not direct targets of our interventions. Although treated students outperformed the poor reader control, no significant differences were found between students who practiced repeated or continuous reading on either measure of reading rate.


The hypothesized differential growth by grade level was not found in this study. As on the pretests, we found no difference in reading outcomes between second and fourth graders as a function of age or grade level, even though widely disproportionate samples were eligible for special education as LD across grades. In our sample, 66% of the poor readers we selected in fourth grade had been identified by their School districts for special education; only 12% of second graders had LD status, most likely because their reading level was not sufficiently discrepant from their cognitive ability, which determined eligibility for special education in this district.

Moreover, our results did not support Faulkner and Levy's (1999) contention that increases in rate due to fluency practice would influence growth in other areas of reading differentially by level of reading development. The finding of no difference in response across grades is important given the decreased emphasis on oral reading in general education as students grow older. For very poor readers who have low reading rates, continuing to include oral reading practice as part of an overall reading program may improve fluency and other reading skills in later grades.


Surprisingly, no significant differences were found between students in RR and CR on measures of word identification, vocabulary, or comprehension. The specific treatment effects in the hypotheses (that repeated reading would improve word identification and fluency whereas continuous reading would improve vocabulary and comprehension) were not borne out in this study. In particular, the expected differences in vocabulary improvement between the treatments (favoring continuous readers) did not emerge.

We considered several possibilities for the lack of vocabulary differences. We can rule out treatment overlap in exposure to text, because the lesson logs and observations showed that, on average, continuous readers read more than twice the amount of unique text that repeated readers read. It is possible that in the easy texts selected for these poor readers, too few unknown vocabulary words were encountered to provide the advantage of new words in multiple contexts that we had anticipated. Thus, even though students in CR read much more unique text, the words may have already been in their receptive vocabularies and offered too few occasions for learning the meanings of new words.

Other possible explanations for the lack of vocabulary differences between RR and CR are that the PPVT-III was insensitive to small differences, if they occurred, or that students at these low reading levels needed more exposures to the meanings of new words in order to learn them than either treatment provided. A measure of reading vocabulary drawn from the reading materials might have been more sensitive than a measure of receptive language.

The relatively low reading levels of text also influenced the percentage of word redundancy that occurred across pages, so that CR in some ways mirrored RR, thus minimizing differences between treatments on word identification. Although words received more repetition for repeated readers, words also recurred several times in each session for continuous readers due to the redundancy of words from one page to another.

Despite the frequently reported difficulty of improving rate for very poor readers (Lovett & Steinbach, 1997; Torgesen, 2000), the students in the treatments made generalized gains in fluency. We did not find classic treatment resisters (students who grew less than one standard error over the mean of the control group). No students with LD in either treatment made fewer than 10 wpm gain in the 14 weeks, and only one treated student's gain fell within the range of gains made by control students. The level of growth in fluency was somewhat surprising, given the low intensity of the interventions (students only practiced reading aloud for 45 min each week), in which we targeted only one component of reading. Overall students gained over 20 wpm across treatments, however students in the Control condition from the same classrooms made minimal gains.


Several limitations are obvious here, including the small sample size and too few students with LD for statistical analysis. In these schools, as nationally, few second graders were eligible for special education under the LD label (i.e., only 2 of the 16 poorest second-grade readers). It is possible that small sample sizes obscured differences, and that a larger study with a range of poor readers across grades would determine whether students with particular learning characteristics might benefit more from one fluency practice procedure than the other. However, given the current evidence, practice reading aloud with corrective feedback appears to be more important than the specific model of practice. Because this intervention was conducted one-on-one, future research should explore how best to generate rate gains for poor readers--particularly students with disabilities-during routine general class instruction, as well as in special education settings.


Examining the growth in rate and comprehension of the average readers suggests that instruction in these classrooms was effective for them. An examination of the growth in reading rate of students in the poor reader Control presents a different view of instruction, and suggests that gains in fluency like those of average readers are unlikely to be achieved by poor readers without interventions that are specifically aimed toward improving reading rate. The results from this experiment suggest that until further evidence on the effects of specific practices for readers with a range of severity of difficulties is gathered, teachers should consider carefully how to incorporate oral reading practice in their instructional routines for poor readers in their classes.

In forty-two 15-min sessions, students in RR and CR achieved generalized improvement in reading rate, and also in word identification and reading comprehension. The results of this study lend evidence in support of the verbal efficiency theory of reading development (Perfetti, 1985), in that large gains in rate--over 20 wpm in the treatments--were associated with gains in comprehension at the sentence (WRMT-NU) and passage (GORT4) levels. Our results do not rule out reciprocal causation between growth in fluency and comprehension; however, the fact that no comprehension instruction was included in the practice sessions increases the likelihood that improved fluency impacts the ability of poor readers to extract meaning from text.

Manuscript received May 2006; accepted November 2006.


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University of California at Riverside

Address correspondence to Rollanda O'Connor, University of California at Riverside, 1207 Sproul Hall, Riverside, CA 92521 (e-mail: rollanda.

ROLLANDA E:. O'CONNOR (CEC CA Federation), Professor of Education; ANNIKA WHITE: (CEC CA Federation), Doctoral Student; and H. LEE SWANSON (CEC CA Federation), Professor of Education, University of California at Riverside.
Means and Standard Deviations on Measures for Students
at Pretest and Posttest by Group (Total Sample)

 Repeated Reading Continuous Reading
 (N = 13) (N = 12)

Measures Pre Post Pre Post

GORT4 fluency raw 25.31 38.15 23.50 36.92
 (15.97) (16.64) (15.32) (16.18)
GORT4 comp raw 14.46 21.00 11.67 19.83
 (6.46) (7.15) (6.77) (7.10)
GORT4 quotient (SS) 76.92 89-38 75.50 89.50
 (12.35) (8.97) (12.78) (12.33)
PPVT-III 86.77 91.85 85.50 89.00
 (8.84) (12.53) (10.99) (10.82)
WRMT-NU 88.85 93.08 91.52 93.58
Word ID (SS) (5.15) (6.90) (8.85) (7.82)
Word Attack (SS) 89.77 94.46 90.50 95.58
 (10.04) (6.21) (11.34) (7.80)
Passage Comp (SS) 89.15 94.00 89.08 93.42
 (4.94) (4.21) (9.02) (7.32)
Fluency (wpm) 57.92 83.77 59.08 82.75
 (24.04) (26.63) (26.02) (31.93)

 Control Average
 (N = 12) (N = 13)

Measures Pre Post Pre Post

GORT4 fluency raw 25.67 29.92 43.64 51.18
 (15.41) (16.41) (15.91) (12.46)
GORT4 comp raw 14.83 16.17 22.01 26.64
 (7.04) (7.77) (6.97) (7.38)
GORT4 quotient (SS) 77.17 78.00 96.73 105.20
 (12.27) (11.22) (12.49) (9.81)
PPVT-III 86.58 84.33 90.00 93.55
 (7.52) (6.20) (10.31) (9.48)
WRMT-NU 87.67 87.83 100.92 105.12
Word ID (SS) (8.30) (6.56) (10.81) (9.47)
Word Attack (SS) 88.67 89.58 101.84 108.01
 (4.90) (6.13) (10.74) (11.60)
Passage Comp (SS) 85.75 84.50 96.40 100.07
 (5.92) (6.78) (8.68) (8.17)
Fluency (wpm) 59.33 64.17 88.36 112.40
 (22.73) (21.31) (24.85) (21.91)

Note. Numbers in parentheses are standard deviations. GORT4 = Gray
Oral Reading Tests, Fourth Edition; comp = comprehension; PPVT-III
= Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-III; WRMT-NU = Woodcock Reading
Mastery Test-NU; Word ID = Word Identification subtest; Passage
Comp = Passage Comprehension subtest; Fluency (wpm) = words per
minute read on the passage from the Analytic Reading Inventory;
SS = standardized scores.

Means and Standard Deviations on Measures for Students
with LD by Group

 Repeated Reading Continuous Reading
 (N = 6) (N = 6)

Measures Pre Post Pre Post

GORT4 fluency 17.00 34.83 15.20 25.80
 (12.21) (17.15) (14.99) (16.04)

GORT4 comp 9.67 20.00 8.43 15.00
 (6.44) (8.56) (8.71) (7.11)

GORT4 quotient 69.83 85.00 67.20 80.20
 (9.68) (6.57) (10.83) (11.54)

PPVT (SS) 86.17 91.83 86.20 89.80
 (9.91) (15.24) (15.14) (15.22)

WRMT-NU 84.00 88.33 84.40 87.20
Word ID (SS) (5.10) (3.67) (7.89) (7.79)

Word Attack (SS) 83.33 92.23 80.82 88.40
 (5.96) (7.03) (9.26) (5.73)

Passage Comp (SS) 83.38 92.50 83.40 90.40
 (4.84) (5.24) (8.65) (8.08)

Fluency (wpm) 42.17 74.33 44.80 65.40
 (22.05) (30.28) (16.51) (25.89)

 (N = 12)

Measures Pre Post

GORT4 fluency 17.40 21.80
 (16.43) (19.15)

GORT4 comp 10.60 13.20
 (7.50) (8.44)

GORT4 quotient 67.60 71.60
 (10.41) (10.43)

PPVT (SS) 85.40 82.60
 (6.39) (1.95)

WRMT-NU 81.40 81.40
Word ID (SS) (3.91) (4.34)

Word Attack (SS) 83.60 83.20
 (5.67) (4.84)

Passage Comp (SS) 82.20 78.40
 (3.27) (6.84)

Fluency (wpm) 41.20 47.20
 (23.42) (21.28)

Note. Numbers in parentheses are standard deviations. GORT4 = Gray
Oral Reading Tests, Fourth Edition; comp = comprehension; PPVT-III
= Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test; WRMT-NU = Woodcock Reading
Mastery Test-NU; Word ID = Word Identification subtest; Passage
Comp = Passage Comprehension subtest; Fluency (wpm) = words per
minute read on the passage from the Analytic Reading Inventory;
SS = standardized scores.

Estimated Parameters and Standard Errors Across Conditions

 Repeated (1) Continuous (2)

Measures EST SE EST SE

GORT Fluency
 Intercept 37.96 4.31 36.17 4.38
 Slope 6.42 .87 6.70 .90
 F-ratio (1,91)
 1 & 2 vs. 3 16.10 **
 1 & 2 vs. 4 6.10 *
 1 vs. 2 .05
ARI Fluency
 Intercept 79.69 7.12 78.85 7.42
 Slope 12.91 2.09 11.83 2.18
 F-ratio (1,91)
 1 & 2 vs. 3 14.07 **
 1 & 2 vs. 4 .02
 1 vs. 2 .13
Word Identification
 Intercept 79.69 7.12 78.85 7.42
 Slope 4.73 .53 4.08 .55
 F-ratio (1,91)
 1 & 2 vs. 3 13.01 ***
 1 & 2 vs. 4 2.05
 1 vs. 2 .70
Passage Comprehension
 Intercept 27.82 2.05 26.00 2.13
 Slope 3.00 .41 2.95 .43
 F-ratio (1,91)
 1 & 2 vs. 3 16.53 **
 1 & 2 vs. 4 3.00
 1 vs. 2 .01
 Intercept 110.62 3.85 105.67 4.01
 Slope 4.80 .86 4.08 .90
 F-ratio (1,44 (a))
 1 & 2 vs. 3 4.81
 1 & 2 vs. 4 1.74
 1 vs. 2 .70

 Control (3) Average (4)

Measures EST SE EST SE

GORT Fluency
 Intercept 29.18 4.48 50.65 4.68
 Slope 2.12 .90 3.77 .95
 F-ratio (1,91)
 1 & 2 vs. 3 16.10 **
 1 & 2 vs. 4 6.10 *
 1 vs. 2 .05
ARI Fluency
 Intercept 61.75 7.41 109.30 7.74
 Slope 2.41 2.18 12.00 2.27
 F-ratio (1,91)
 1 & 2 vs. 3 14.07 **
 1 & 2 vs. 4 .02
 1 vs. 2 .13
Word Identification
 Intercept 61-75 7.41 109.30 4.05
 Slope 1.95 .55 3.38 .60
 F-ratio (1,91)
 1 & 2 vs. 3 13.01 ***
 1 & 2 vs. 4 2.05
 1 vs. 2 .70
Passage Comprehension
 Intercept 21.75 2.13 31.42 2.29
 Slope .83 .43 2.01 .46
 F-ratio (1,91)
 1 & 2 vs. 3 16.53 **
 1 & 2 vs. 4 3.00
 1 vs. 2 .01
 Intercept 101.83 4.01 110.45 4.19
 Slope 2.04 .90 2.95 .94
 F-ratio (1,44 (a))
 1 & 2 vs. 3 4.81
 1 & 2 vs. 4 1.74
 1 vs. 2 .70

Note. EST = estimated parameter, SE = Standard error

(a) Vocabulary was collected in two waves, rather than 3.

* p < .05

** p < .001

Effect Sizes of Growth Slopes

 Effect Sizes

Measures 1 vs. 2 1 vs. 3 1 vs. 4 2 vs. 3 2 vs. 4

GORT4 Fluency -0.063 0.972 0.610 1.039 0.677
ARI 0.101 0.984 0.087 0.882 -0.016
Word Identification 0.241 1.030 0.501 0.791 0.260
Passage Comprehension 0.024 1.034 0.477 1.006 0.451
PPVT-III 0.164 0.628 0.431 0.463 0.262

Note. 1 = Repeated Reading Condition; 2 = Continuous Reading
Condition; 3 = Poor Reader Control Condition; 4 = Average
Reader Condition; negative numbers favor the second group in
the comparison. GORT4 = Gray Oral Reading Tests, Fourth
Edition; ARI = Analytic Reading Inventory; WRMT-NU = Woodcock
Reading Mastery Test-NU; PPVT-III = Peabody Picture Vocabulary
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Author:O'Connor, Rollanda E.; White, Annika; Swanson, H. Lee
Publication:Exceptional Children
Article Type:Table
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2007
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