I was at my daughter’s open house at her school and the teacher kept talking about "fluency." Everyone seemed to know what it was (but me) so I was too embarrassed to ask. What is fluency?

"Fluency" is an educator’s term which basically means the ability to read text quickly and accurately while comprehending the content. For example, a good reader who could decipher and pronounce the words about a complicated procedure in a medical journal would lack fluency because he’d lack the background knowledge to understand what he was reading. Because reading is a tool we utilize to decode written information in order to understand what the author is conveying, the mere ability to pronounce words is only one component of the reading process. As testing over recent years revealed a deficiency in fluency, a trend in education has developed to stress this aspect of reading. As teachers and parents we can help build fluency by discussing with our young readers the meaning of what they are reading and helping them to understand unfamiliar words and concepts. As a child’s overall knowledge and vocabulary grows, fluency naturally improves.