University of Iowa

Repeated Reading with Goal Setting for Reading Fluency: Focusing on Reading Quality Rather Than Reading Speed

Teacher talking to students working in pairs

As part of Repeated Reading, students take turns reading a passage multiple times to practice actively processing print and reading new words.
Photo courtesy Merrimack College School of Education/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Posted on: February 5, 2019

Reading fluency, the ability to read at an appropriate rate and with accuracy and proper expression, is essential to reading comprehension (Stevens, Walker, & Vaughn, 2017). When students read fluently, they can devote their limited cognitive resources to making meaning from text, rather than recognizing individual words (LaBerge & Samuels, 1974). Therefore, it is important for teachers to implement research-based reading fluency instruction to improve students’ skills.

Reading fluency instruction can take many forms, but it often involves having students read orally so teachers can hear how students are processing the text. Repeated Reading is one type of reading fluency instruction that has evidence of effectiveness at improving the oral reading fluency of elementary students (Kim, Bryant, Bryant, & Park, 2017) and secondary students (Wexler, Vaughn, Edmonds, & Reutebuch, 2008). Moreover, students with learning disabilities (LD; Stevens et al., 2017) and those with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD; Morgan, Sideridis, & Hua, 2012) have also benefited from this type of instruction. This is important because these populations are more likely to struggle with reading fluency than their typical peers (Tindal, Nese, Stevens, & Alonzo, 2016; Wanzek, Al Otaiba, & Petscher, 2014). During Repeated Reading, students orally read a single passage multiple times in order to reach a certain accuracy rate or criterion, or to complete a prescribed number of readings (Wexler et al., 2008). For example, students might be instructed to repeatedly read a passage until reaching 130 words correct per minute (WCPM). Another teacher might instruct students to complete three readings of the passage. When students repeatedly read the same text, they practice actively processing print, which may improve their ability to read automatically, with little effort spent on word recognition (LaBerge & Samuels, 1974). In addition, students receive multiple exposures to new words and practice reading those new words in different types of sentences and paragraphs (Chard, Ketterlin-Geller, Baker, Doabler, & Apichatabutra, 2009).

Key Components of Repeated Reading Instruction

Researchers have identified several key components of Repeated Reading instruction. The first is error correction, in which students receive feedback on words mispronounced during oral reading and practice the correct pronunciations (Therrien, 2004). Error correction benefits oral reading fluency by helping students rehearse and refine pronunciations, which may improve the ability to recognize the practiced words in new texts (Ardoin, Eckert, & Cole, 2008).

A second beneficial component of repeated reading is peer mediation, in which students work together in pairs or small groups to complete instructional assignments (Wexler, Reed, Pyle, Mitchell, & Barton, 2015). In Repeated Reading, students read together and serve as more immediate sources of error correction than when a single teacher provides feedback to individual students. When students work with their peers, they are more engaged in fluency practice activities and report increased satisfaction with the assignments (Lee & Yoon, 2017).  

Finally, student goal setting is a Repeated Reading component that is associated with immediate gains in reading rate and accuracy, as well as sustained improvement over time (Morgan et al., 2012). Goal setting may help students self-monitor their reading and identify useful strategies that benefit their reading performance (Berkeley & Larsen, 2018; Perry, Albeg, & Tung, 2012). During reading fluency practice, goal setting typically involves students quantifying a goal, such as “I will read 120 WCPM on my third reading of the passage.”

Although goal setting is important, it should be based on accurate information and realistic expectations. In recent research, some students responsible for serving as fluency coaches to their peers consistently recorded inaccurate reading rate and accuracy data (Reed, Zimmermann, Reeger, & Aloe, 2018). Given that even trained adults struggle to identify student errors on fluency assessments, students’ mistakes are unsurprising (Reed, Cummings, Schaper, Lynn, & Biancarosa, in press). In addition, focusing on the number of words read correctly may communicate to students that the speed of their reading is more important than the quality of their reading. Rather than establishing a goal based on questionable reading data or an inappropriate understanding of fluency, we recommend that students be taught to identify positive behaviors and reading strategies on which to focus during reading fluency practice.

Repeated Reading: Introductory Lesson

Before expecting students to implement repeated reading on their own, teachers should implement an introductory lesson. During this lesson, the teacher delivers explicit instruction, in which she models a Repeated Reading session, as well as the thought processes and procedures relevant to its implementation. In addition, the teacher provides students with opportunities to practice Repeated Reading before the peer-mediated instructional sessions begin.

Below is an instructional sequence that outlines the teacher-directed introduction and student implementation of Repeated Reading. This lesson is appropriate for students of any age who can read connected text.


Tell students the objective of Repeated Reading is to improve their oral reading fluency. Explain that they will be working on two of the three parts of oral reading fluency: reading accuracy and reading rate. Define what it means to read accurately, and emphasize that reading at an appropriate rate does not mean reading as quickly as possible. Remind students that improving oral reading fluency is important because fluent reading allows a reader to focus on comprehending the text. Also, describe for students how reading errors and an inappropriate reading rate could contribute to comprehension difficulties. This may include a demonstration of reading too quickly, too slowly, or by making so many errors that the ideas in the text cannot be understood.


Inform students that they will set goals at the beginning of each Repeated Reading session. Explain that setting goals before reading helps readers by outlining specific strategies or behaviors that will help them reach their goals. Goal setting is about making a plan for success. Display the “Oral Reading Fluency Goal Setting Template” (see Supplemental Materials for Teachers) on a document camera or projector. In a think-aloud, refer to the “Oral Reading Fluency Reflection Guide” (see Supplemental Materials for Teachers) and reflect on strengths and weaknesses of your oral reading in a previous fluency practice session. On the template, identify one or two positive behaviors or reading strategies on which you will focus during the current session in order to improve your fluency. For example, you might choose to focus on stretching sounds of unknown words and remaining calm after making an error.

Tell students that you will be modeling fluent reading. Explain that as you read, you want them to think about how quickly you read and to consider why this rate is important to your reading fluency and understanding of the text. In addition, ask students to pay attention to what a fluent reader does while reading, particularly when encountering an unknown word or making a mistake. 

Identify a short passage that is appropriate for the students’ current reading level and model reading the entire passage at an appropriate rate. As you read, be purposeful in making a few errors, and explicitly model for the students the steps a fluent reader takes to acknowledge and correct errors. Be sure to implement the behaviors or strategies identified in the goal-setting portion of the lesson.

After completing your model of oral reading, discuss with students the rate at which you read. Emphasize that even though you did not time your reading of the text, you know that your rate was appropriate because it sounded similar to the rate at which you usually talk. You did not read so quickly or slowly that it inhibited your understanding of the text. In addition, another person could have easily followed and understood your oral reading.

Next, discuss the ways you responded to your errors, and the specific behaviors and strategies that fostered oral reading fluency. Briefly report the number of errors made. Display the “Oral Reading Fluency Goal Setting Template.” Reflect on whether or not you were successful in meeting your fluency goals for the day. Using the “Oral Reading Fluency Reflection Guide,” describe any successes you experienced while reading, and identify areas of improvement for the next fluency practice session.


Ask students to reflect on their own oral reading and identify their strengths and weaknesses. Support students in identifying one or two reading strategies and positive behaviors on which they will focus during the present lesson in order to improve their oral reading fluency. Students may consider other strategies than the suggestions provided, depending on individual need.

Assign each student a partner of close to the same reading level. Provide students with a text they have not read. This text should be aligned to their current abilities. Because students in the class may be at different levels, not all students will be reading the same passage. If the partnered students are at slightly different reading levels, the text should be at the level of the lower-ability student in the pair. Briefly preview the procedures for Repeated Reading and outline the role of the coach, or listening partner, and the reader. Give students an opportunity to ask questions. Clarify directions as needed.

Throughout the lesson, students will read the entire passage three times and hear their partners read the entire passage three times. Therefore, the text should be of a length that students could finish reading in about 60 to 90 seconds. The more fluent reader in the pair should read first. Each reading of the passage should follow three steps:

  1. The reader begins reading when he or she is ready. The other student, acting as the coach, should not initiate the reading with phrases such as, “Ready, Set, Go!”, because that may indicate that the goal is to read as quickly as possible. The reader reads the entire text aloud, focusing on reading at an appropriate rate and with minimal errors, while the coach follows along.
  2. As the coach listens to the reader’s oral reading, he or she marks pronunciation errors. If the reader does not correctly identify a word within about 3 seconds or a couple of attempts at pronouncing it, the coach can supply the word (if known), but still marks the word as an error. Self-corrections that occur quickly or by rereading the sentence are not counted as errors.
  3. Following each completed reading of the passage, the pair implements the Error Correction Procedure (see Supplemental Materials for Teachers). The coach reviews the reader’s errors by identifying the words read incorrectly, providing correct pronunciations, and asking the partner to repeat the word. The students then switch roles.

The steps are repeated three times for each partner with the teacher monitoring the work of the pairs and ensuring the steps are followed as faithfully as possible.

After the final reading, the teacher should lead students in using the “Oral Reading Fluency Reflection Guide” to reflect on the outcome of that day’s Repeated Reading lesson. Ask them to consider the reading and behavioral strategies that either helped or hindered their oral reading fluency. Support students in determining if they need to focus on different or additional strategies in the next session or continue with those identified in the present lesson. Finally, lead students in setting a goal for the next session, and be sure to praise effort and improvements exhibited in that day’s session.

After implementing this introductory lesson, teachers can incorporate Repeated Reading lessons into future classroom literacy instruction. These peer-mediated sessions will give students opportunities to rehearse and refine their recognition of new words. By focusing on reading quality, rather than reading speed, students will create a path to improved reading fluency.

Supplemental Materials for Teachers

PDF iconOral Reading Fluency Goal Setting Template

Students choose from reading strategies and positive behaviors to set goals for improving their oral reading fluency during a Repeated Reading session.

PDF iconOral Reading Fluency Reflection Guide

This guide provides traits/skills of fluent readers and questions to help students identify their own strengths, weaknesses, and things to improve on in the future.

PDF iconOral Reading Fluency Error Correction Procedure

Students working in pairs learn to follow a four-step procedure for correcting any errors made during oral reading fluency practice sessions.


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