FLORA is a program BLT developed to measure how accurately, fluently and expressively children read grade level texts. Over three decades of research have demonstrated that children’s oral reading fluency proficiency is an excellent predictor of their reading comprehension and future academic success (1,2). Each school year, millions of children in U.S. elementary schools are tested for oral reading fluency. For example, at Boulder Valley School district, an average first or second grade teacher spends about 6 days of a school year assessing their students’ reading skills. FLORA is designed to help automate this process.
FLORA presents a text passage to a child, records them reading the text aloud for one minute, then computes the number of words that children read correctly. The resulting Words Correct Per Minute (WCPM) score can be used to determine if students are at risk for reading, by comparing their scores to norms collected for tens of thousands of first through sixth grade children across the U.S. during fall, winter and spring (3). These normative data are used to determine if children who enter school are below the 50th percentile relative to their peers, and may therefore be at risk for learning to read.
In addition to assessing how accurately and fluently children read, we conducted research to determine how accurately FLORA can assess how expressively children read grade level texts. Children who read texts expressively by pausing at appropriate places and modulating their voice to communicate both meaning and affect—are demonstrating excellent reading skills and comprehension strategies.
Our research, described in the three articles linked in the Publications section on the right sidebar, compared FLORA’s WCPM scores and expressiveness ratings to those produced by human judges. Human judges had excellent agreement on WCPM scores, with average disagreements of 1 to 2 words across all stories; the average disagreement between FLORA and human judges was 3 to 4 words. When FLORA’s ratings of expressive reading, using a 4-point rating scale, from disfluent to highly fluent, was compared to human judges, we learned that FLORA agreed with the human judges more accurately than they agreed with each other. These results indicate that FLORA can be used in real world classroom environments to assess children’s oral reading fluency. MindStars Books (link) use the FLORA system to help children acquire oral reading fluency by providing them feedback on words they may have misread during independent reading of text passages.
Flora Fluent Oral Reading Assessment of Childrens Speech
1.Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D., Hosp, M. K., & Jenkins, J. R. (2001). Oral reading fluency as an indicator of reading competence: A theoretical, empirical, and historical analysis. Scientific Studies of Reading, 5, 239-256.
2.Good, R. H., Simmons, D. C., & Kame’enui, E. J. (2001). The importance and decision-making utility of a continuum of fluency-based indicators of foundational reading skills for third-grade high-stakes outcomes. Scientific Studies of Reading, 5, 257-288
3.Hasbrouck, J., & Tindal, G. Oral Reading Fluency Norms: A Valuable Assessment Tool for Reading Teachers, The Reading Teacher Volume 59, Issue 7, pages 636–644, April 2006).