Effective Fluency Instruction for Fourth Graders Study

Students read and write in class

The Iowa Reading Research Center is studying alternative approaches to improve the quality of literacy instruction in general education classrooms through the Effective Fluency Instruction for Fourth Graders study.

How Are Fluency Interventions Currently Used?

When students read a text at an appropriate pace/rate with accuracy and expression to support their understanding, they are demonstrating fluent reading. The most common approach educators take to help students improve this skill involves reading a passage multiple times in succession, known as repeated reading. Although this has been considered an effective practice (Lee & Yoon, 2017; O’Keeffe, Slocum, Burlingame, Snyder, & Bundock, 2012), the approach also may condition students to read in ways that are not authentic to how a skilled reader would handle a text. Some educators have extended this to reading books in class and at home by asking students to read each page three times.

Studying Alternative Fluency Intervention Approach

This study aims to determine if oral reading fluency will improve at greater levels when an intervention involves students reading three different (varied) passages in succession rather than reading the same passage three times. There is at least an 85% overlap of unique words in each of the three passages in a set for the varied practice. Approximately 1,200 students in participating fourth-grade classrooms will be randomly assigned either to repeated reading or varied practice reading with a partner for 15-20 minutes. Classes will complete approximately 30 total sessions, so we can compare the two approaches and make more informed recommendations to teachers.

Study Partners

The Iowa Reading Research Center thanks the following school districts that are participating in the study:

Questions About This Study?

Please contact us with any questions about this study designed to gain a better understanding of approaches to help students become more fluent readers.

IRRC Director, Dr. Deborah K. Reed



Lee, J., & Yoon, S. Y. (2017). The effects of repeated reading on reading fluency for students with reading disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities50, 213-224. doi:10.1177/0022219415605194

O’Keeffe, B. V., Slocum, T. A., Burlingame, C., Snyder, K., & Bundock, K. (2012). Comparing results of systematic reviews: Parallel reviews of research on repeated reading. Education and Treatment of Children35, 333-366. doi:10.1353/etc.2012.0006