DIBELS Retell Fluency (RTF)

Retell Fluency (RTF) is intended to provide a comprehension check for the Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) assessment. In general, oral reading fluency provides one of the best measures of reading competence, including comprehension, for children in first through third grades. The purpose of the RTF measure is to (a) prevent inadvertently learning or practicing a misrule, (b) identify children whose comprehension is not consistent with their fluency, (c) provide an explicit linkage to the core components in the NRP report, and (d) increase the face validity of the ORF.

  1. The misrule that we want to prevent is that speed-reading without attending to meaning is either desirable or the intent of the oral reading fluency measure. With a prompted retell, children will be less likely to conclude, and teachers will be less likely to imply, that simply reading as fast as they can is the desired behavior.
  2. Teachers frequently are concerned about children who read fluently and do not comprehend. This pattern is infrequent but may apply to some children. This procedure may identify those children without unduly increasing the amount of time spent in the assessment.
  3. The National Reading Panel (2000) report is clear on the core components of early reading, and the DIBELS measures map explicitly onto the first three (i.e., Phonemic Awareness, Alphabetic Principle, and Accuracy and Fluency with connected text). Retell Fluency is included to provide a brief measure with an explicit score that corresponds directly to the comprehension core component.
  4. A primary concern teachers have about oral reading fluency is the face validity of the measure (i.e., some see it as solely a measure of "speed reading"). Incorporation of an explicit comprehension check may help teachers feel increasingly comfortable with oral reading fluency as an indicator of overall reading proficiency.

RTF is administered in 1st Grade through 6th Grade. See the DIBELS administration timeline for complete information.

For technical information about the RTF measure see our technical reports.

How does RTF link to the Big Ideas in Beginning Reading?

Retell Fluency (RTF) is a measure that assesses comprehension, the ability to extract meaning from text.

To learn more about comprehension, visit the Big Ideas in Beginning Reading: Comprehension pages.