Comprehension and rate during silent reading: Why do some students do poorly?

  • Elfrieda H. HiebertEmail author
  • Mark Daniel


This exploratory study was designed to evaluate the interplay of students’ rate and comprehension in independent silent reading of accessible text, within the frameworks of the Simple View of Reading and the RAND Reading Study Group. In the first phase, 61 sixth graders were given a reading test (GRADE), a motivation questionnaire, and an on-screen measure of comprehension-based silent reading rate (SRF-O, adapted from aimswebPlus SRF) with on-grade and below-grade text. Two-thirds of students had perfect or near-perfect SRF-O comprehension, but the other one-third had moderate to poor comprehension. These weaker SRF-O comprehenders had relatively low GRADE scores, but others with comparable GRADE scores comprehended well on SRF-O. The poorest SRF-O comprehenders read with increasing rate and decreasing comprehension across the SRF-O texts. In the second phase, the 21 students with weaker SRF-O comprehension took an oral reading fluency (ORF) test and a paper form of the silent reading rate measure (SRF-P) in a one-on-one setting. All students comprehended well on SRF-P and their SRF-P rates correlated highly with GRADE and ORF. Results support the view that poor comprehension in independent silent reading of accessible text may be due to factors other than reading ability (such as assessment context) and that, when students read with comprehension, their rate is a good indicator of their reading ability.


Silent reading fluency Reading comprehension Oral reading fluency 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.TextProjectSanta CruzUSA
  2. 2.PearsonBloomingtonUSA

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