Reading: Rate, Comprehension, Accuracy- Oh My!

Enrichment Therapies

September 5, 2017

With a new school year comes another round of tests. After the excitement of the first week of school dies down, you are left with reports (and possibly stress/worry) regarding your child’s reading skills and how they compare to their peers. Once you receive these results, you’re left asking “what do these scores mean?” “what level should my child be performing at?” and, most importantly, “how do I get my child to catch up with peers?”

Check out this helpful information to increase your understanding and ability to help!


The 3 main components of reading proficiency include reading rate, accuracy, and comprehension.

Rate- indicates the amount of time taken by the student to read a story.

Accuracy- indicates the student’s ability to pronounce and sound out each word in the story correctly.

Note: If you hear the term reading fluency, this refers to a student’s reading rate and accuracy combined.

Comprehension- indicates the appropriateness of the student’s responses to questions about the content of each story read.


Each measure is tested a little differently, so let’s break it down by skill!

Rate- the amount of time taken to read a story is measured in Words Per Minute (WPM).

Here is how it is calculated:

(# words in the story)*(60 seconds in a minute)/(time in seconds it took the student to complete the story)

For example, if your child reads a 30-word story in 50 seconds, their WPM would be 36 (30*60/50=36)

Below is a chart that outlines the rate your student should be reading at throughout the school year:

Accuracy- the ability to produce or sound out words is often measured in a percentile.

Here is how it is calculated:

(# words correctly produced/(total # words in the story) * 100

For example, if your child reads a 30-word story and is able to accurately produce or sound out 25 then their reading accuracy would be 83% (25/30=.83*100=83%)

In the schools, students are expected to read with 95% accuracy for grade-level stories.

Comprehension- the number of comprehension questions a student is able to answer correctly is measured in a percentile.

Here is how it is calculated:

(# correct answers/(total # of comprehension questions asked) * 100

For example, if your child reads a story and is able to accurately answer 4 out of 5 comprehension questions asked then their reading accuracy would be 80% (4/5=.80*100=80%)

Students are expected to answer comprehension questions accurately with 90% accuracy for grade-level stories.

Check out this video for a DIY assessment at home:

Need grade-level materials to test your child? Check out Reading A-Z’s sample stories!

See the chart below for level equivalencies!


The school system utilizes a universal screening and progress monitoring system to test these skills. For elementary students, this screening is called the Formative Assessment System for Teachers (FAST). 

Rate- a student’s reading rate is tested the same as described above.

Accuracy- in the schools this measure is called CMBreading (CBM-R). CBM-R is a measure of accuracy, automaticity, and expression in connected text. It is tested the same as described above. The standard for all grades levels and all seasons is 95 percent accuracy.

Comprehension- in the schools this measure is called aReading. aReading is a computer adaptive reading assessment that presents the student with 30 questions of varying difficulty. The difficulty varies by the student’s level of accuracy on the previous question. Generally speaking, an incorrect response generates a question of less difficulty, and a correct response generates a question of equivalent or greater difficulty. 


Here is where things get a bit tricky! Not all schools, tutors, and learning specialists utilize the same reading level program and materials. Here is a chart that shows 4 of the most common reading programs and what level in the program students should be at.

Note: Many of the schools in the Iowa City/North Liberty area utilize the DRA program. 


Although the schools often provide additional instruction to those who fall below benchmarks, many families seek out additional help!

If you are interested in our reading program please contact us and check out previous blogs for fun ideas to work on your student’s reading skills: This link provides numerous blogs with creative and effective activities to target reading rate, accuracy, and comprehension.

Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offering small group academic programs.  At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success.  Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.

740 Community Drive, Unit A

North Liberty, IA 52317


5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300

Johnston, IA 50131



Related Posts