Enhancing the Oral Reading Fluency Skills of Adolescent Struggling Readers


Poster Presentation


Harborside Center East and West

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership


This proposal is highly connected to Strand 1, Academic Achievement and Leadership. The presenters will be providing program participants with specific strategies for developing the oral reading fluency skills of struggling older readers. Practitioners will be able to use these strategies in small group, and whole group settings. In addition, adolescents will be able to independently use these strategies when reading connected text.

Brief Program Description

This session will describe meaningful and age-appropriate oral reading fluency strategies that can be used to enhance the reading skills of struggling adolescent (grades 4-12) readers as they interact with connected text.


The term adolescent can be misleading – adolescent literacy is not limited to teenagers. This label is used to describe literacy skills for students in Grades 4-12. In grades K-3, students are learning to read, but beginning in Grade 4 they shift to reading to learn (Chall, 1983). The National Reading Panel (2000) identified five components that are essential for learning to read successfully: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. There is an assumption that the basic components of reading that have to do with decoding and encoding the words on the page (i.e., phonemic awareness, phonics, and fluency) are in place for grade level readers by Grade 4. While the components of reading that address making meaning (vocabulary and comprehension) must also be addressed in the early grades; the emphasis on these components becomes paramount in the upper grades. Adolescent literacy encompasses the skills that must be taught to all students so they can meet increasingly challenging reading and writing demands as they move through the upper grades, as well as what needs to be done for those students who fall behind. Presenters will be sharing with session participants multiple oral reading fluency reading strategies that have been proven to be effective with adolescent struggling readers. These strategies include: Engaging in Phrase Work • Students read phrase cards • Students read word cards from memory • Students scoop sentences • Students read phrase cued text Reading Controlled Decodable Text • Students read text with words that contain only the sounds and structures that have been taught Reading Non-controlled Decodable Text • Students read text written at a basic decoding level (high interest-low level readers) Neurological Impress Method (Plus) • Students gradually take over the responsibility of reading a piece of instructional-level text. The focus of NIM (Plus) is on fluency and making the voice match the print. Sessions are meant to be short and fun and acknowledge the student’s good work.


Reading comprehension and writing skills are predictors of academic success and a basic requirement for participation in civic life and in the global economy. The statistics about the lack of literacy skills among American middle and high school students and adults are alarming. For example, • Sixty-nine percent of eighth-grade students fall below proficient level in their ability to comprehend the meaning of text at their grade level, and 26% read below the basic level (Lee, Griggs, & Donahue, 2007). • Roughly two-thirds of 12th graders read and write below a proficient level, and half of those students lack even the most basic literacy skills needed to succeed in school (NALC, 2007). • Achievement gaps in upper grades have not narrowed. In 2005, only 12% of African American and 15% of Hispanic eighth graders read at or above a proficient level, compared to 30% of Caucasian eight graders. In a typical high-poverty urban school, approximately half of incoming ninth-grade students read at a sixth or seventh grade level or below (Heller & Greenleaf, 2007; Perie, Grigg, & Donahue, 2005). • Every year, 1 in 3 young adults drops out of high school (Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy, 2008), and one of the most commonly cited reasons for this is that students simply do not have the literacy skills to keep up with the high school curriculum, which has become increasingly complex. • Almost 40% of high school graduates lack the reading and writing skills that employers seek, and almost one third of high school graduates who enroll in college require remediation (National Governor’s Association, 2005). • Deficits in basic skills cost the nation’s businesses, universities, and underprepared high school graduates as much as $16 billion annually in lost productivity and remedial costs (Greene, 2000). • The 25 growing professions have far greater-than-average literacy demands, while the fastest-declining professions have lower-than-average literacy demands (Barton, 2000). • One in every 100 U.S. adults 16 years and older is in prison or jail. About 43% do not have a high school diploma or equivalent, and 56% have very low literacy skills (Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy, 2008). While the statistics noted above may be overwhelming, the growing acknowledgment that we need to provide better literacy instruction for adolescent students is being matched by increasing federal and state efforts to support schools in this endeavor. More importantly, it is also becoming clear that schools can provide better instruction if they put into practice what is already known about effective reading and writing instruction in the upper grades.

Biographical Sketch

Tenisha L. Powell is an associate professor of Early Childhood Education in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at Winthrop University, in Rock Hill, SC and has been in the field of early childhood education since 2000, first serving as lead teacher in a three to four-year-old classroom. After receiving her Bachelor's degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in early Education & Family Studies and her Master's degree from Purdue University in Child Development & Family studies, she worked briefly as a Project Director for Project Literacy at Purdue University. Her duties included preparing training guides and coaching protocols for Head Start teachers and providing technical assistance and consultation in the area of Early Childhood Literacy. Tenisha was also responsible for presenting enhanced strategies to increase best classroom practices for implementing an age-appropriate emergent literacy program.

Tenisha also holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in Early Childhood Education & Development. At Winthrop, Dr. Powell teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the Early Childhood Education Program including Science in Early Childhood Education, Young Children: Insuring Success, Community Connections for Families, Introduction to Early Childhood Education and Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood Care and Education.

Kavin Ming is an associate professor of literacy in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at Winthrop University, in Rock Hill, SC. She previously taught at Lynn University and Washington Elementary in Palm Beach County, FL. At Lynn University she taught courses in special education, beginning reading instruction, and early childhood development. At Washington Elementary she worked with title 1 at-risk students who were in danger of grade retention and subsequence school dropout.

Kavin earned a B.A. in English and a M.Ed. in Special Education from Florida State University, and an Ed.D. in Special Education from Florida Atlantic University. At Winthrop, Dr. Ming teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the following areas: beginning reading instruction, reading assessment, content area literacy, and children's literature. Her current areas of research interest include: improving the success rate of students at risk for reading failure, reading fluency, and effective multicultural practices in classrooms.

Keyword Descriptors

Oral Reading Fluency, Adolescent Struggling Readers, Adolescent Literacy

Presentation Year


Start Date

3-3-2015 4:00 PM

End Date

3-3-2015 5:30 PM

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Mar 3rd, 4:00 PM Mar 3rd, 5:30 PM

Enhancing the Oral Reading Fluency Skills of Adolescent Struggling Readers

Harborside Center East and West

This session will describe meaningful and age-appropriate oral reading fluency strategies that can be used to enhance the reading skills of struggling adolescent (grades 4-12) readers as they interact with connected text.