The Elegance of Frequency: Seeing Results with Word Lists


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 6, the student will perform a 30 second fluency check to determine how well they have learned the words taught In the first five lessons.
  • The fluency check involves only those words taught to this point in the program.
  • At the end of each 5 lesson block, a new fluency check for words will be available.
  • Each new fluency check will summarize all of the words taught to that point in the program.
  • All fluency check for word lists last for 30 seconds.
  • The student is expected to correctly identify 30-40 words in 30 seconds 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 30-40 words in 30 seconds, 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 Word 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 30 seconds.
  • Have the student touch the first word and decide whether to go down the column or across the rows.
  • 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 30 -40 words in 30 seconds.

Recording the Word Fluency Check Scores of a Student

Like the Sound Fluency Chart, the Word Fluency Chart has a total of 10 columns, two for each of five different fluency checks over 30 lessons. After each lesson, the teacher records the number of words the student said correctly in 30 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 6 -10. The second two columns are for the data from the sound fluency checks for lessons 10-15 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 30 to 40 words in 30 seconds.

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

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 one column of words until the student can produce 30-40 words per minute with no more than 2 errors by reading the words in the first column over and over during the 30 second timing. Then you could add the second column and do the same exercise with the second column. Then you could combine the first two columns and bring these sounds to fluent levels. Repeat for the remaining columns.


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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