Reading Efficiency: The Hidden Hurdle (Part 2)
Perceptual Span & Word Recognition
A perceptual span is the number of letters a student can perceive and process during a single eye stop (fixation). The perceptual span of beginning readers and of most people who struggle with reading is smaller than the span of efficient readers. Efficient readers are able to perceive larger word impressions without making multiple eye stops, which contributes to automaticity in word recognition and paves the way for more efficient text navigation.
Efficient readers are able to keep their place within a line of text, move their eyes sequentially from one word to the next, and return from the end of one line of text to the beginning of the next without making excessive eye movements. Reading instruction typically emphasizes decoding and comprehension strategies, but does not take into account efficient text navigation skills. Consequently, many students struggle to navigate text in a manner that supports good comprehension.
Not a Disability
Inefficient reading is not a learning disability. While some inefficient readers may have dyslexia or other learning challenges, most students who are inefficient readers simply have not yet mastered the mechanics of reading.
Average Reading Rate
The typical speaking range is about 150-175 words per minute.7 Many non-proficient readers never develop the efficiency necessary to read at least as quickly and easily as they can speak. For these students, reading is laborious, unenjoyable, and unproductive. Conversely, many proficient readers are already able to read silently at the upper end of the speaking range by 5th grade. These students become even more efficient through the secondary grades.
To be continued next week…