The Elegance of Frequency: Seeing Results with Story Reading


As you teach your child the 1000 most common words in English using the Teach Your Children to Read Well program, you will want to know the rate and accuracy at which your child is learning.

  • We will use fluency checks as a measure of his or her performance and of your teaching.
  • After each lesson, beginning in Lesson 10, the student will perform a 1 minute fluency check to determine how well they can read a story.
  • The fluency check involves a story in which only those words taught to this point in the program are used.
  • At the end of each 5 lesson block, a new story fluency check will be available.
  • Each new story reading fluency check will be written using any of the words taught to that point in the program.
  • All story reading fluency checks last for 60 seconds.
  • The student is expected to correctly identify 125 -150 words per minute with no more than 2 errors.
  • The student’s scores, (i.e. number of words read correctly and number of errors), is recorded after each session.
  • When the student can produce 125-150 words per minute, with no more than two errors, the student has become fluent with that material and is ready to move on to the next fluency check.

Administering the Word Fluency Check

  • Have available 2 copies of the Story Reading Fluency Check
  • Give one to the student and have one for the tutor on which to record errors.
  • Tell the student that they will read the words aloud to you for 60 seconds.
  • Have the student touch the title of the story and begin reading.
  • Say “Please Begin” to start the timing and “Thank You” at the end of 30”.
  • Count and record the score.
  • Check the score against all earlier scores and against the standard of 100-125 words in 60 seconds with 2 or fewer errors.

Recording the Word Fluency Check Scores of a Student

Since the Story Reading Fluency Checks only begin after Lesson 10, there are only 4 sets of columns in the Story Reading Fluency Chart. The Story Reading Fluency Chart has a total of 8 columns, two for each of four different fluency checks over 30 lessons. After each lesson, the teacher records the number of words the student read correctly in 60 seconds and the number of errors that the student made during the timing. The first two columns are for recording the Words Said Correctly and the Learning Opportunities (Errors) of the first fluency check for Lessons 10-15. The second two columns are for the data from the story reading fluency checks for lessons 15-20 and so on.

There are 10 boxes labeled 1-10 that go from top to bottom in each column so that the student can have 10 days in which to reach the standard of 100 to 125 words in 60 seconds.

Having listened to the student read the story, the instructor records the student’s best set of scores in the appropriate boxes. The student may have more than one attempt to read the story.

Comparing Scores

The scores for corrects should increase, while the scores for errors should decrease as the fluency checks continue after each lesson.

Correction Strategies

If that does not happen, you need to review the errors the student is making for a minute or two before each fluency check. You could also limit the fluency check to 50, 75 0r 100 words until the student can produce 100-125 words per minute with no more than 2 errors by reading the words in the first few sentences over and over during the 60 second timing. Then you could add the second set of sentences and do the same exercise with the larger section. Then you could combine the first two story segments and bring this much of the story to fluent levels. Repeat for the remaining paragraphs. As the student practices, s/he will learn to simply identify the word without having to sound it out.


You can use this strategy with any phonics-based reading program if you are willing to create the sound fluency checks, the word fluency checks and the story reading fluency checks. We have already compiled it all into 4 sets of programs for K-8 to save you the many hours of work required. Check the Free Reading Assessment Test to place your student in the appropriate program and to have access to the free training and the first 10 lessons.


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