Truth #1 – When a student is reading nonfiction, their rate may slow down when they are making sense of harder parts and speed up when they are making sense of easier parts. THIS IS BEAUTIFUL! It means they are attempting to monitor for meaning making!!!!
Truth #2 – A student may never read as fluently as I, the teacher, do. What’s important to consider is whether their lack of fluency is getting in the way of their comprehension. If the student’s phrasing, rate, expression, intonation are OK-decent (not quite the rockstar), then I’d move the conference forward into checking for comprehension. If the student’s fluency seems to be getting in the way of comprehension, then I’d teach for improvement in this area.
Below are several teaching points explaining why readers need to think about the different aspects of fluency. *I’ve adapted these based on the work of Marie Clay (think Reading Recovery) and Jan Richardson (Next Step Forward in Guided Reading). See the link below for PDF.
BTW – If you know the reader is fluent, you may not need to listen to them read aloud. You may want to just start by checking on comprehension! If your students are struggling with word solving, check out Conferring Tip #1 on helping students with tricky words.
Hope this helps.