Age and the Human Ability to Decode Words

Sonya Davey
Thomas S. Wootton High School, Rockville, MD

Full manuscript: http://www.kon.org/urc/highschool/davey.html

Abstract What is the age when reading fluency in a certain population begins? It is not only important to know the reading fluency starting age of individuals with learning disabilities in reading but also to compare reading fluency of students at one school versus another. Reading fluency is the ability to read text, not just accurately but also quickly and effortlessly. This study describes a method of determining a reading fluency starting age. Based upon the data obtained from the present research, it was determined that the reading fluency starting age was the age at which the reading fluency score on the alphabetical test versus ages of the population showed a maximum.


Background Reading is the multi-dimensional cognitive process of decoding symbols for deriving meaning. In other words, reading is the ability to decode and comprehend text. The first aspect of reading is decoding; decoding speed is one indication of reading fluency. Decoding involves the knowledge of individual sounds or phonemes (phonemic awareness), familiarity with the letters in the language (letter knowledge), and the knowledge that each letter corresponds with a specific sound (alphabetic principle). In order to bring clarity to these three steps, one can track the reading stages with the words “cat” and “hat.”

Full manuscript: http://www.kon.org/urc/highschool/davey.html