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Fluency Norms Chart (Updated)

View the results of the updated 2017 study on oral reading fluency (ORF) by Jan Hasbrouck and Gerald Tindal, with compiled ORF norms for grades 1-6. You'll also find an analysis of how the 2017 norms differ from the 2006 norms.

In 2006, Jan Hasbrouck and Gerald Tindal completed an extensive study of oral reading fluency. The results of their study were published in a technical report entitled, "Oral Reading Fluency: 90 Years of Measurement," archived in The Reading Teacher: Oral reading fluency norms: A valuable assessment tool for reading teachers.

In 2017, Hasbrouck and Tindal published an Update of Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) Norms, compiled from three widely-used and commercially available ORF assessments (DIBELS, DIBELS Next, and easy CBM), and representing a far larger number of scores than the previous assessments.

The table below shows the mean oral reading fluency of students in grades 1 through 6, as determined by Hasbrouck's and Tindal's 2017 data. You can also see an analysis of how the 2017 norms differ from the 2006 norms.

Oral reading fluency (ORF)

Of the various CBM measures available in reading, ORF is likely the most widely used.  ORF involves having students read aloud from an unpracticed passage for one minute. An examiner notes any errors made (words read or pronounced incorrectly, omitted, read out of order, or words pronounced for the student by the examiner after a 3-second pause) and then calculates the total of words read correctly per minute (WCPM).

This WCPM score has 30 years of validation research conducted over three decades, indicating it is a robust indicator of overall reading development throughout the primary grades.

Interpreting ORF scores

ORF is used for two primary purposes: Screening and progress monitoring. When ORF is used to screen students, the driving questions are, first: “How does this student’s performance  compare to his/her peers?” and then: “Is this student at-risk of reading failure?”

To answer these questions, the decision-makers rely on ORF norms that identify performance benchmarks at the beginning (fall), middle (winter), and end (spring) of the year. An individual student’s WCPM score can be compared to these benchmarks and determined to be either significantly  above benchmark, above benchmark, at the expected benchmark, below benchmark, or significantly below benchmark.

Those students below or significantly below benchmark are at possible risk of reading difficulties. They are good candidates for further diagnostic assessments to help teachers determine their skill strengths or weaknesses, and plan appropriately targeted instruction and intervention (Hasbrouck, 2010. Educators as Physicians: Using RTI Data for Effective Decision-Making. Austin, TX: Gibson Hasbrouck & Associates.

When using ORF for progress monitoring the questions to be answered are: “Is this student making expected progress?” and “Is the instruction or intervention being provided improving this student’s skills?”

When ORF assessments are used to answer these questions, they must be administered frequently (weekly, bimonthly, etc.), the results are placed on a graph for ease of analysis, and a goal determined. The student’s goal can be based on established performance benchmarks or information on expected rates of progress. Over a period of weeks, the student’s graph can show significant or moderate progress, expected progress, or progress that is below or significantly below expected levels.

Based on these outcomes, teachers can decide whether to (a) make small or major changes to the student’s instruction, (b) continue with the current instructional plan, or (c) change the student’s goal (Hosp, Hosp, & Howell, 2007. The ABCs of CBM: A Practical Guide to Curriculum-based Measurement. NY: Guilford Press).

Using the data

You can use the information in this table to draw conclusions and make decisions about the oral reading fluency of your students.

Students scoring 10 or more words below the 50th percentile using the average score of two unpracticed readings from grade-level materials need a fluency-building program.

In addition, teachers can use the table to set the long-term fluency goals for their struggling readers.

2017 Oral reading fluency (ORF) data

2017 Hasbrouck & Tindal Oral Reading Fluency Data
Grade %ile Fall WCPM* Winter WCPM* Spring WCPM*
1 90   97 116
75   59 91
50   29 60
25   16 34
10   9 18
2 90 111 131 148
75 84 109 124
50 50 84 100
25 36 59 72
10 23 35 43
3 90 134 161 166
75 104 137 139
50 83 97 112
25 59 79 91
10 40 62 63
4 90 153 168 184
75 125 143 160
50 94 120 133
25 75 95 105
10 60 71 83
5 90 179 183 195
75 153 160 169
50 121 133 146
25 87 109 119
10 64 84 102
6 90 185 195 204
75 159 166 173
50 132 145 146
25 112 116 122
10 89 91 91

* WCPM = Words Correct Per Minute

The 2017 chart is available as a PDF: 2017 Hasbrouck & Tindal Oral Reading Fluency Data

Comparison of ORF norms for 2006 and 2017

%iles   Grade 1 F W S   Grade 2 F W S
90   2017   97 116   2017 111 131 148
90   2006   81 111   2006 106 125 142
    Difference   16 5   Difference 5 6 6
75   2017   59 91   2017 84 109 124
75   2006   47 82   2006 79 100 117
    Difference   12 9   Difference 5 9 7
50   2017   29 60   2017 50 84 100
50   2006   23 53   2006 51 72 89
    Difference   6 7   Difference -1 12 11
25   2017   16 34   2017 36 59 72
25   2006   12 28   2006 25 42 61
    Difference   4 6   Difference 11 17 11
10   2017   9 18   2017 23 35 43
10   2006   6 15   2006 11 18 31
    Difference   3 3   Difference 12 17 12

 

%iles   Grade3 F W S   Grade 4 F W S
90   2017 134 161 166   2017 153 168 184
90   2006 128 145 162   2006 145 166 180
    Difference 6 15 4   Difference 8 2 4
75   2017 104 137 139   2017 125 143 160
75   2006 99 120 137   2006 119 139 152
    Difference 5 17 2   Difference 6 4 8
50   2017 83 97 112   2017 94 120 133
50   2006 71 92 107   2006 94 112 123
    Difference 12 5 5   Difference 0 8 10
25   2017 59 79 91   2017 75 95 105
25   2006 44 62 78   2006 68 87 98
    Difference 15 17 13   Difference 7 8 7
10   2017 40 62 63   2017 60 71 83
10   2006 21 36 48   2006 45 61 72
    Difference 19 26 15   Difference 15 10 11

 

%iles   Grade 5 F W S   Grade 6 F W S
90   2017 179 183 195   2017 185 195 204
90   2006 166 183 194   2006 177 195 204
    Difference 13 1 1   Difference 8 0 0
75   2017 153 160 169   2017 159 166 173
75   2006 139 156 168   2006 153 167 177
    Difference 14 4 1   Difference 6 -1 -4
50   2017 121 133 146   2017 132 145 146
50   2006 110 127 139   2006 127 145 150
    Difference 11 6 7   Difference 5 5 -4
25   2017 87 109 119   2017 112 116 122
25   2006 85 99 109   2006 98 111 122
    Difference 2 10 10   Difference 14 5 0
10   2017 64 84 102   2017 89 91 91
10   2006 61 74 83   2006 68 82 93
    Difference 3 10 19   Difference 21 9 -2

Average differences in ORF for each grade level

Average differences in OPF across percentile ranges for each grade level
Difference
Grade Fall Winter Spring Average *
1   41 30 7
2 32 61 47 9
3 57 80 39 12
4 28 30 36 6
5 43 30 38 8
6 54 18 -10 4

* Average across all percentile range values.

Adapted from http://www.readnaturally.com/pdf/oralreadingfluency.pdf.

Reprints

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Comments

I am interested in using your chart for my learners. However, there is little information on howv it is used. For instance, how do you account for the fact that the score of a learner remains unchanged (the percentile) as the learner's number of correct words read in a minute over terms improves ?

In this case, the percentile is not an individual score per se, but rather a performance level. For example, students who are reading at the 50th percentile in the winter of first grade, read 23 words correct per minute (WCPM). So, if you want your students to read at the 50th percentile, you will want to follow that line across to check that their WCPM score improves at the suggested rate throughout the year and that they meet the fall, winter and spring WCPM benchmarks that are given.

It is because the child is aging and so is his peers. As everyone else improves the 50th %tile has to increase, too. You might ask, "Well, why is the end of the year WPM score higher than the fall WPM score for the next grade?" Remember, the text difficulty is increasing each year.

So to analyze a child's fluency skills to others, you could compare him to same aged peers reading the same text OR older peers at a higher level text OR younger peers at a lower level text OR all of these. In the past, this was a way for me to find a student's independent, instructional and frustration levels of reading. As a special education teacher, I used to write statements of strengths or deficits as, "As a sixth grader, John's fluency is commensurate with a fourth grade student at the 50th %tile reading a fourth grade level text." I would include the numbers of where a typical sixth grader would be at that time of year and include his %tile, too.

One of my favorite informal reading assessments is a Burns and Roe IRI.

The percentile is a normative score that reflects the student's relative standing compared to his same-grade peers, while words correct per minute is a raw or absolute score without reference to other students. As all students in a grade grow in wcpm, the only way a student could improve his percentile score (relative standing in the group) is to outpace his peers in wcpm growth. Use wcpm to measure a student's growth over time (i.e., progress monitoring), and use the percentile score to gauge how well he's doing compared to same-grade peers (i.e., decide if he needs to be referred for intervention).

This is a very useful matrix, especially with the information about improvement, rather than just being guided by percentiles. I recognize that silent reading cannot be measured similarly, given that miscues cannot be captured by the examiner, but is there a guideline for wpm read independent of comprehension results?

This is for oral reading. Does anyone know how much faster a student can typically read silently?

I've been doing reading assessments with the QRI-4 by Leslie and Caldwell, so I'm wondering if you count ALL miscues for the CWPM score (total accuracy), or just the number of meaning change miscues (total acceptability) to get the oral reading fluency score.

What if the student is reading about the CWPM average, but at an independent level that is not grade level? For example my fourth grader reads 105 CWPM in Winter, but he is reading at a third grade benchmark.

How do you account for a child's score that goes down throughout the year? Example: fall 205wpm ORF winter 203 and Spring 181? Clearly the child didn't forget how to read?

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