Holly Walker

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 2008


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program for Education Leaders (IDPEL)


School of Education

Committee Chair

David A. Topper

Committee Member

Jane Johnston

Committee Member

Nikki Barnhart


fluency, reading fluency, oral reading rates, fluency strategies


The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of explicit fluency-building strategies on the oral reading rates of first-grade students. According to the National Reading Panel (2000) there are five essential components of reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. All components are needed to achieve the complex skill of reading. Due to the reciprocal nature of these skills pertaining to reading, a deficit in any reading component can cause difficulties in learning to read (O'Connor, 2007). Therefore, reading fluency is critical to proficiency in reading. Specifically, this study investigated whether explicit instruction in fluency-building strategies significantly increased the oral reading rates of first-grade students. The experimental group participated in explicit instruction of fluency strategies for 15-30 minutes a day, five days a week, for sixteen weeks. This treatment occurred within the hours of the regular school day. The target population of this study involved 56 first- grade students from three multicultural elementary schools in a suburban-rural school district. The measure of the dependent variable, oral reading rate, was the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS). The Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) measure was administered twice during the course of this study: pre and post treatment. The scores of the DIBELS ORF were analyzed to determine the effect of explicit fluency-building strategies on the reading rates of first-grade students.

The results of this research study did not indicate a significant increase in the oral reading rates of the first-grade students who participated in explicit fluency-building instruction. Students in both the experimental and control groups experienced increases in their oral reading rates as measured on by the Oral Reading Fluency measure of the DIBELS. The results of this study generated no empirical evidence to support the implementation of explicit research-based fluency strategies. Therefore, the null hypothesis was retained. In summary, the purpose for this dissertation topic was to investigate how fluency building strategies can be systematically implemented into reading instruction to increase the oral reading achievement rates of first-grade students. Further, this study provided opportunities for students to practice and assimilate fluency strategies.