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Skill Overview

What is accuracy?

Accuracy is the ability to read without errors.  It is expressed as the percentage of words read correctly of the words attempted.


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

  • Automatic recognition of words

  • Reading with at least 95% accuracy


Why is understanding accuracy important to reading?

If students lack accuracy with decoding skills, their reading is labored and they quickly jump to less reliable cues for naming words. In order to be a good reader, a student must be accurate, first and foremost (Hasbrouck, 2010). The meaning of the text is diminished if words are read incorrectly. 

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

Accuracy is the first step in becoming a fluent reader. The sequential and cumulative nature of instruction in accuracy mirrors the layers of fluency.  That is, students must be accurate first in letter sound/letter name, followed by accuracy in word reading, then phrases, then connected text.  This explains why simply having a student “practice fluency” by reading a passage may be counterproductive if the student is still stumbling at the phoneme blending or decoding levels.

In the educational setting, the goal of accuracy is 95% or above.  If accuracy falls below this, comprehension is compromised because not all of the word meanings have been interpreted correctly. While it is always important to strive for the highest accuracy, the expectations for accuracy shifts depending on the purpose for reading. For example accuracy may be less important for a comic book that entertains than for a medical journal that informs a surgical procedure.


Whenever assessing fluency, always calculate the accuracy score.

To build accuracy effectively, daily and weekly routines for practice should be established.  [Strategy Cards and Routine Cards are provided within the resources of this website.]  As students are receiving instruction in word recognition, positive corrective feedback is critical to ensure accurate decoding.  Teachers should model accuracy by applying the gradual release model of “My Turn, Our Turn, Your Turn.”  Practice in reading words, sentences, and short passages is important to cement accuracy and should routinely conclude the small group phonics instruction.

Practice Resources

Downloadable Files From BRI Resources
Downloadable Files From Literacy Partners
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