Reading Racetracks

Instructional Practice
Oral Reading Fluency
Tier I,II
Target Student

students who need assistance with sight word recognition


This practice aims to increase the fluency and acquisition of sight words for elementary students through a game-ified drill and practice. A teacher composes the Reading Racetracks (“target” and “review” versions) from a master sight-word list. In a game-like format, an individual student reads aloud from a “racetrack” wordlist for 1 minute, the teacher records their reading performance, and repeats the wordlist reading until reaching a pre-set benchmark.

How To


  1. Create four lists of seven words each from a master sight-word list. Each word should only appear once per list.
  2. For the four lists, the teacher fills out copies of the Reading Racetrack (called “target” versions). One word is copied into each numbered blank and is repeated in random order until all 28 blanks of the Racetrack are filled in and complete. (Each word from the associated list should appear four times on the sheet). Check the corresponding box on the Racetrack to identify it as a “target” version of the sheet.
  3. Copy the words from all 4 lists (7 words a list; 28 items total onto a single Racetrack form in random order. Check the corresponding box on the Racetrack to identify it as a “review” version of the sheet

Conducting the "Reading Racetrack"

  1. Give the student a copy of a Reading Racetrack filled out with sight words. Tell the student he or she will have one minute to read as many words from the Racetrack sheet as possible. If the student completes the circuit (reading all 28 words on the sheet before the time expires) he or she should continue reading words in order from the Racetrack sheet until told to stop.
  2. To begin, direct the student with the phrase, "On your mark, get set...go!" and start the stopwatch.  As the student reads words aloud, the record any errors. Also, track the number of complete circuits the student makes around the Racetrack (each circuit signifies 28 words attempted). If the student hesitates for longer than 3 seconds on a word, state the correct word, direct the student to the next word, and record the hesitation as an error. At the end of one minute, tell the student to stop reading and put a check next to the final word read. 
  3. Prompt the student to tally the total number of words read correctly and congratulate the student on that number.  There is no need to focus on the number of words missed with the student. Record the number of correctly read words and errors on the Reading Racetrack Score Sheet. Copy the specific error words into the space marked “Practice Words” on the Reading Racetrack Score Sheet.
  4. For each error word, point to the word and say it out loud. Ask the student say the word with you.  Next, ask student say the word out loud independently, and  repeat the word correctly three times in a row. 
  5. Over time, the student should continue with timed readings of the current Reading Racetrack until the student either reads at least ninety words correctly in one minute or has attempted the Racetrack list a total of five times.

Green, C. L., McLaughlin, T. F., Derby, K. M., & Lee, K. (2010). Using reading racetracks and flashcards to teach sight words to students with disabilities: Effects for acquisition and response maintenance. Journal of Educational Research, 13(2) Retrieved from

Kaufman, L., McLaughlin, T. F., Derby, K. M., & Waco, T. (2011). Employing reading racetracks and di flashcards with and without cover, copy, and compare and rewards to teach of sight words to three students with learning disabilities in reading. Educational Research Quarterly, 34(4), 24-44.

Rinaldi, L., Sells, D., & McLaughlin, T. F. (1997). The effects of reading racetracks on the sight word acquisition and fluency of elementary students. Journal of Behavioral Education, 7(2), 219-233. doi:10.1023/A:1022845209417

Related Resources

Reading Racetrack Score Sheet

Reading Racetrack Target Review Form


Related Websites

Intervention Central

Adapted from: How To: Build Sight-Word Vocabulary With the Reading Racetrack (n.d.). In: Intervention Central. Retrieved from:

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