If we emphasize speed at the expense of prosodic and meaningful reading, we will end up with fast readers who understand little of what they have read. Fluency instruction leads to impressive gains when it provides regular opportunities for expressive reading through assisted and repeated readings coupled with coaching; it doesn't require explicit reference to reading for speed. Students' reading rates will improve as they become naturally more efficient and confident in their ability to decode words.
Based on his research he has found assisted reading and repeated reading to be the most beneficial modes of instruction to promote fluency that leads to improved comprehension.
After reading a passage aloud to students, I ask them to follow along with me, first silently and then aloud, as a group. Sometimes I ask students to orally read a passage with a partner who is at the same reading level. At other times, I ask more fluent readers to read with students who are having difficulty with reading (Eldredge & Quinn, 1988; Topping, 1987a, 1987b, 1995) or I have students silently read while listening to a fluent rendering of the passage on tape (Carbo, 1978; Pluck, 1995). Such practices constitute a powerful strategy for improving fluency and comprehension.
Developing fluency in reading requires practice; this is where the method of repeated readings comes in (Samuels, 1979). Research indicates that repeated readings lead not only to improvement in reading the passage but also to improvement in decoding, reading rate, prosodic reading, and comprehension of passages that the reader has not previously seen (Dowhower, 1994; Koskinen & Blum, 1986; Kuhn & Stahl, 2000; National Reading Panel, 2000).
These are things worth considering as we seek to help students read for understanding.