Improving reading fluency

Description of the innovation

Our innovation investigated the impact of an eight week small-group reading fluency intervention (the Herts for Learning Key Stage 2 (HFL KS2) Reading Fluency Project) on reading comprehension and reading accuracy for children in Years 4, 5 and 6 who were working below age-related expectation. Progress was compared to similar pupils who received the school’s usual guided reading support.

The HFL KS2 Reading Fluency Project entails two small-group reading sessions per week, with each session lasting 20 minutes. Session one focuses on teacher-led modelled fluent reading, alongside interspersed echo reading, ending with a performance read. Session two is a traditional guided reading session with time for high-level discussion generated from question stems that reflected the structure and wording used in the Year 6 SATs (statutory assessments that pupils take at the end of Year 6).

Summary of the evaluation

Pupils in Years 4, 5 and 6 at a large community school in St Albans participated in the evaluation. Eight Year 4, six Year 5 and six Year 6 pupils took part in the intervention – meaning a total of 20 participants in the intervention group and 20 in the control group. They were pupils who were:

  • working below age-related expectation (ARE) at the end of Year 3, Year 4 or Year 5 (the year prior to their September 2018 year group)
  • not on track to meet end-of-year expectations in reading
  • struggled to read a text judged to be at ARE.

One class in each year group took part in the innovation while the other class formed the control group. Pupils were matched from both classes based on the criteria described above. The control classes were taught using the guided reading strategies normally used in the school (a guided reading carousel) while intervention group pupils took part in guided reading sessions using the HFL KS2 Reading Fluency Project. The intervention lasted eight weeks.

The York Assessment of Reading for Comprehension (YARC) was administered as a pre- and post-test to all participating pupils. Reading accuracy and reading comprehension ages were analysed.

Summary of findings

Our research found that the HFL KS2 Reading Fluency Project had a positive impact on developing pupils’ reading accuracy and comprehension, as measured by the YARC. Over the course of the eight week evaluation, the average progress in reading comprehension age for pupils who took part in the intervention was eight months while those in the control group made an average of two months progress (so a +6 months positive difference, effect size +0.38). Average reading accuracy age progress for intervention group pupils was one year, one month while the control group made five months progress (a +8 months difference; effect size +0.64).

Because there were only 20 pupils in the intervention group, our results show a positive finding from a small-scale study, which suggests that a larger-scale evaluation is merited. Our results do mirror the results other schools have had with the HFL KS2 Reading Fluency Project.

Lead school

  • Garden Fields JMI School, St Albans

Main findings

  • Overall effect size for reading comprehension = +0.38
  • Overall effect size for reading accuracy = +0.64

Download the protocol document