Dyscover has combined 2 hours worth of traditional assessment into a 10 minute online reading test, providing assessors with an accurate score for six reading measurements.
An important element in reading fluency is accuracy. Reading with accuracy is the ability to read the text with very few or no mistakes and is the most essential skill of reading fluency. Therefore, an increase in accuracy leads to better fluency and comprehension.
Accurate decoding is a necessary foundation of reading comprehension, and is a skill that must be mastered if students are going to be able to “read to learn”. If students cannot quickly decode words, they will continue to struggle while reading. Students also need to be able to quickly read non-decodable sight words to improve their accuracy.
Syllabication describes the act of dividing words into syllables. A syllable is part of a word that contains sound/s (phonemes). Also known as a ‘beat’, syllables can be identified by students in many ways including: clapping the word beats or patting down the arms (eg fan-tas-tic). Another way to describe a syllable is a ‘mouthful’ in a word.
There are 7 syllable types that can be explicitly taught: closed, open, magic e, vowel team, r controlled, diphthong, and consonant -le.
More than 80% of words in English have more than one syllable. It is much easier to read a new, unfamiliar word in chunks or syllables rather than to try to sound out all the phonemes in one long, continuous string. Syllables are easier to remember than small and individual bits of information (phonemes) so they lighten the cognitive load in reading. A lighter cognitive load frees up working memory and that’s important because learning new skills requires a lot of working memory.
The skill preventing many students from reading proficiency is word-level reading, specifically decoding and word identification. Word reading fluency assesses the student’s sounding-out ability and their whole word recognition of single words. The ability to sound out involves converting printed letters to their corresponding sounds and is assessed by having the student decode aloud pseudowords (nonsense words), such as /yud/. Whole word recognition ability involves accessing stored knowledge about familiar words and is assessed by having the student read aloud irregular words, such as /enough/, which cannot be decoded by sounding out the word.
Word reading fluency plays a vital role in the student’s ability to read. Accurate and timely decoding of unfamiliar words helps to improve the fluency of reading which allows for reading to become a natural, enjoyable and meaningful experience. Fluent reading means the student is then able to focus on comprehension and extracting meaning from the text and is the very reason we read.
Sight words, also known as high-frequency words, are words that a reader recognises without having to sound them out. Some sight words are irregular or have letter-sound relationships that are uncommon, while some abide by the generalisations or rules of the English language and can be sounded out once a student has been explicitly taught those rules through a systematic pedagogy.
Sight word recognition plays an important role in learning to read fluently, and although not a substitute for the critical skill of being able to decode unfamiliar words (referred to as word identification), recognising frequently occurring words automatically and by sight, contributes to reading effortlessly and with understanding.
It is considered that the first 100 sight words represent over 50% of English text, therefore a student who has mastered those sight words can already recognise at least half of a sentence.
The need to recognise high-frequency words automatically is significant; sight word instruction remains one component of a comprehensive literacy program for early readers and for older students experiencing reading difficulties as part of reading intervention.
Decoding is the learned ability to “sound out” words that don’t look familiar and is a key skill for learning to read, involving the taking apart of sounds in words (segmenting) and blending sounds together. It requires both knowledge of letter-sound relationships, as well as an ability to apply that knowledge to successfully identify written words and make meaning. Phonetic decoding connects sounds to symbols, and phonics instruction supports readers to make those connections. An example of applying this knowledge would be knowing that when the letter c is followed by the letters e, i, or y, it makes its soft sound, as in cell, city, and cypress. When the c is followed by a, o or u, the letter c makes a hard sound as in cap, code and cut.
Decoding is essential to reading. It allows students to decipher words they may have heard but have not seen in print before, as well as sound out words they are not familiar with. The ability to decode is the foundation upon which all other reading instructions, such as fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension are built.