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Illustrative Student Oral Reading

Click to play each audio recording below and listen to the oral readings demonstrated by two students reading a selected passage, “Guide Dogs.” Note that to protect student confidentiality, the voice quality of their original passage reading was slightly modified while maintaining authentic oral reading performance. As a result of the process of masking the identity of the student, it may not be possible to tell the student’s gender.

Guide Dogs (152 words)

Guide dogs lead very interesting lives. For 10 or 12 years, they are in charge of guiding a blind person. To do this job they must be smart, gentle, and very well trained.

Most guide dogs are born at a kennel. Since dogs are gentler when raised by a family, the dogs are given to families soon after they are born. When the dogs are about 14 months old, they return to the kennel to be trained.

The dogs train in large groups for about three months, and they know more at the end of that time than most dogs will ever learn. But the training isn't over yet. Their new masters arrive and they train together as a team for one more month.

At the end of that time they are ready for the world. Guide dogs form strong bonds with their masters, and they keep them company all the time.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 2018 Oral Reading Fluency study.

below NAEP Basic Low

Notice that this student only finishes one-third (54 out of 152 words) of the passage within the allotted 90 seconds, reading approximately 34 words correct per minute (WCPM). During oral reading of the passage, the student tends to focus on individual words and local word groups but not on phrases, sentences, or the passage as a whole. The student is unable to decode key words that are essential for text comprehension, such as “guide,” “blind,” and “gentle.” Less than half of the passage portion read aloud is marked by appropriate expression. The reading is mostly arrhythmic or monotonic, suggesting a lack of comprehension.

NAEP Proficient

Notice that this student reads the full passage within the allotted 90 seconds, reading approximately 159 words correct per minute (WCPM). The student reads the passage as if for a listener. Oral reading fluency is demonstrated through ease of word recognition and decoding, as well as by the use of appropriate intonation, rhythm, emphasis, and pausing. The student consistently expresses the structure and meaning of sentences, paragraphs, and the passage as a whole and stumbles slightly on only a few words.


Last updated 14 April 2021 (DS)