Examining the trajectory of differentially skilled first graders' reading fluency of words in isolation and in context

Francesca A. López, Sandra S. Thompson, Doris Walker-Dalhouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to examine the developmental trajectory of speed and accuracy of words in context and in isolation among skilled, average, and less skilled readers (N=201). The authors assessed fluency of words read in isolation and in contextual measures in the fall, winter, and spring of 1st grade. They performed a multivariate repeated measures profile analysis on the 2 fluency measures representing the number of words read correctly in 1 min. Based on Wilks's criterion, the profiles deviated significantly from parallelism. The 3 reading skill groups had different profiles on the 2 fluency measures, and there were differences on the fluency measures among groups. An interaction-contrasts analysis resulted in a significant interaction among the different reading skills groups and their fluency on the measures of words in isolation and words in context across time. Proficient readers used context from the beginning of the school year and were markedly more fluent by the end of the year when context was present than when it was not. For average readers, context was not helpful at the beginning of 1st grade; by spring, average readers performed moderately better on paragraphs than on word lists. Less skilled readers, however, did not use context to aid in fluency as evidenced by their higher scores on word lists across the school year. The authors discuss the findings in the context of prior research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-305
Number of pages25
JournalReading and Writing Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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