top of page

Skill Overview

What is rate?

Rate refers to the number of words read correctly. Fluency rates are generally calculated based on the number of words read correctly within a minute.


What tasks should students be able to demonstrate to indicate mastery of this skill?

Using Hasbrouck and Tindal's fluency norms (2017), students should be able to demonstrate the following optimal rates (50th percentile) on end-of-year benchmark assessments at grade level:

  • 1st grade-- 60 wcpm

  • 2nd grade-- 100 wcpm

  • 3rd grade--112 wcpm

  • 4th grade--133 wcpm

  • 5th grade--146 wcpm

  • 6th grade--146 wcpm

  • 7th grade--150 wcpm

  • 8th grade--181 wcpm


Why is understanding rate important to reading?

Students whose reading is slow or labored will have trouble meeting the reading demands of their grade level and as text becomes progressively more difficult over time.

What screener can be used to determine if there is a deficit in fluency or some underlying skill?

Structured Literacy Tools


Sequential and Cumulative

Systematic and Explicit

To Mastery

In teaching the importance of reading rate and providing students with opportunities for practice, passages should be sequenced based on their independent reading levels.  For early readers, fluency rate begins with decodable text until a sufficient number of spelling patterns have been mastered.  This is why fluency is not tested until the middle of 1st grade when many patterns have been introduced.  Leveled passages are based on text complexity and word choice.  Reliable sources, such as the Florida Center for Reading Research, offer sequenced grade level passages for use in practicing and assessing reading rate.

Teaching reading rate explicitly requires modeling of appropriate rate and providing meaningful feedback to students about their rate when they read aloud.  To teach rate systematically, teachers should provide daily practice using repeated readings of the same text and charting progress, using a bar graph, over time. 

The National Norms for Oral Reading Fluency (Hasbrouck and Tindall, 2017) provide an evidence-based sequence for calibrating optimal reading rates according to grade levels.  Rate should not be equated with speedy reading.  In fact, the optimal rate is neither too slow, nor too fast.  Optimal rates are defined as on or near the 50th percentile for a grade level passage.  As students progress through middle school, reading rates based on grade level passages ultimately reach a plateau, whereby faster reading does not contribute to better comprehension.   Unlike fluency practice, fluency assessment for rate should use a “cold” passage; that is, one the student has not seen before.

Practice Resources

Downloadable Files From BRI Resources
Downloadable Files From Literacy Partners
bottom of page