A Tale of Two Assessments: Reading Fluency

  • Kara Lindstedt
  • Michael J. Zaccariello


It seemed Ethan had it all: he was popular among his peers, renowned for his athletic prowess, and the son of educated and well-established parents residing in the upper echelon of a Midwestern community. Further, he was an 11th grader at an esteemed private school known for its academic rigor and for producing future doctors, lawyers, and philosophers. Yet, there was much more to Ethan than met the eye. Academically, he struggled to keep up with class assignments and to meet the expectations of his high-achieving parents. He had to jump many hurdles to meet the lofty goals that were the norm in his everyday world, and this weighed heavily on him.

Ethan had difficulty with reading since grade school. He found reading extremely challenging and laborious, and he was unable to keep up with the volume of reading that was expected in his classes. Not only did the demands of in-class tasks produce obstacles for him, but homework was particularly frustrating— he would give up. Ethan had begun to develop what psychologists call “learned helplessness.” He would not attempt assignments, feeling as if no matter how well or hard he worked, he would inevitably fail. In contrast, he tended to function with ease in courses that had less reading. Beyond Ethan 's difficulties with reading, he found it difficult to sustain his focus and concentration. He also felt that it took him longer than his friends to plan or organize various school assignments. Finally, he felt that he had problems recalling things he read. As an upperclassman with hopes of attending a university, Ethan, like his peers, took the college entrance exams. Though he achieved a score of at least 30 on the math section of the ACT, he attained only a 19 in reading. In spite of his reading struggles, Ethan had managed to achieve average to above average grades in all classes.


Reading Comprehension Phonological Awareness Reading Fluency Phonological Processing Learn Disability 
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Resources for Clinicians

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Resources for Families

  1. Council for Learning Disabilities (n.d.). CLD infosheets: Secondary students with learning disabilities in reading: Developing reading fluency, Infosheets/fluency.asp
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kara Lindstedt
    • 1
  • Michael J. Zaccariello
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Clinical PsychologyMarquette UniversityMilwaukee
  2. 2.Division of Neuropsychology, Department of NeurologyMedical College of Wisconsin and Froedtert HospitalMilwaukee

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