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Basic Reading Skills -> Fluency Addition to NAAL (FAN)


FAN examines components of oral reading fluency that the main NAAL does not assess. Using speech-recognition software, FAN measures adults’ ability to decode, recognize words, and read with fluency.

Key Features

  • Establishes a basic reading skills scale.
  • Identifies, for the first time, the relationship between basic reading skills and selected background characteristics, as well as performance on the main NAAL, Health Literacy Component, and prison study.
  • Provides a baseline for measuring future changes in the levels and distribution of oral fluency over time.

Ultimately, FAN can improve understanding of the skill differences between adults who are able to perform relatively challenging tasks and adults who lack basic reading skills. Such information will prove most useful to researchers, practitioners, and policymakers. For instance, adult education providers can use FAN results to develop and offer instruction and courseware that will better address the skill sets of the least-literate adults. Likewise, policymakers can use FAN results to support the creation and improvement of programs serving adults with lower literacy skills.

View the FAN Fact Sheet.


Of Special Note
Reading for comprehension. Interviewers instruct respondents to read each passage quickly, but at a speed in which they can still comprehend the text. After respondents read a passage, the interviewer asks them a brief, comprehension question that requires a short oral answer. The question is based on material early in the passage, in the event that a respondent does not finish the passage in 60 seconds. Although answers to these comprehensive questions are not scored, the questions motivate respondents to read for meaning as well as fluency.

Development & Administration

After completing the main NAAL or ALSA, all respondents take FAN during the NAAL interview. NAAL interviewers use a computer-assisted oral fluency module that records speech as respondents read into a microphone. Once the interviewer presses “record,” the oral module allots readers 20 seconds to read a list and 60 seconds to read a passage. View sample FAN administration screen.

FAN Tasks and Stimulus Materials

FAN respondents read aloud from passages, lists of digits, lists of letters, lists of English words, and lists of pseudowords (in that order).

Passages. First, respondents read 2 passages, which are selected randomly by Computer-Assisted Personal Interview System (CAPI). Each FAN passage consists of a relatively simple expository or narrative text—with short sentences and no illustrations—that is suitable for assessing oral reading comprehension. Respondents read one passage at about the third-grade level and one at about the eighth-grade level.

Lists of Digits and Letters. Next, respondents read 2 digit lists of 35 numbers (one of which is a practice list) and then 2 letter lists of 35 letters (one of which is a practice list).

Lists of Words. Finally, respondents read 3 lists of 42 familiar words that increase in difficulty (the first of which is a practice list and also the easiest), and then 3 lists of 30 pseudowords (i.e., possible but non-occurring English forms), that also increase in difficulty (the first of which is a practice list and also the easiest).