Professional Development Platform

December 11, 2020 Reading Time: 20 Minutes Contributor: Sarah Roden

Precision Teaching – An Introduction

Precision Teaching is a method of planning a teaching programme to meet the needs of an individual child or young person who is experiencing difficulty with acquiring or maintaining some skills. It is one of the most effective teaching strategies for ensuring high levels of fluency and accuracy. Precision Teaching involves short one minute tasks to build skills by practising them regularly. It lets you monitor and track the progress the child makes very carefully and make changes to ensure the child is learning as fast as they can. It is not in fact ‘teaching’ in the full sense but is a tool to help highly effective teaching and support where a child is finding something difficult or where the skill they need to learn needs to be fluent and automatic. Carefully designed tasks allow children to practise key skills until they are fluent. It also provides the mechanisms for assessing and monitoring progress.

The Benefits

The Theory

When a child learns a new skill they first have to acquire the skill. This usually involves watching someone else do it or being guided in how to do it. After acquiring the skill the child has to build up fluency. Fluency is usually achieved by practising the task until it becomes automatic. Once a skill is fluent or automatic the next challenge is maintaining it over time, which involves coming back to the skill from time to time to remember it. Beyond this the child needs to generalise so that they can use it in different situations and adapt it to different situations.

Read more about the The Instructional Hierarchy

How its done

Guide to precision teaching

Probe Sheets

Probe sheets are used to asses fluency. A probe is a set of sight words randomised and repeated on a grid, to be recognised and read accurately as many times as possible within a strict time

The child should work on the probe for a short time at least once a day (ideally three times a day), usually for exactly one minute. ​You are finding out exactly how many items can be correctly recalled in that 1 minute. It should include a new item/s, item/s previously learnt to fluency (maintenance words) and item/s previously taught but not yet in the long term memory (fluency words). The number of items included depends on the pupil.

Don’t correct during, deal with errors after.​

You can also take the opportunity to build in a short teaching session in the ’10 minute model’ where you would teach for 8 min, complete the probe for 1 min and then record the results for 1 min.​

It is useful for the adult to have their own copy of the probe sheet so they can record correct and incorrect answers as the child is going.

Record Sheets

Record sheets are used to track progress and inform teacher action.

Use this to plot daily results (with the child). The trends that you see on here will let you know how to move forward. In theory, if there are 3 consecutive days at 90% accuracy (this might take a while!)​, then you can innovate the probe.

The record sheet is used to record the number of items completed, the percentage of items answered correctly and those answered incorrectly.

This is repeated so that trend lines can be created. The first review should take place after the first three days of the new probe.

See the Guide to precision teaching for more information about using record sheets and fluency charts.


Contact Sarah Roden (Assistant Principal, SENDCo and Designated Safeguarding Lead

Minerva Primary Academy – [email protected]

Precision Teaching Videos

Design your own precision teaching worksheet

Precision Teaching Probes

Ideas for activities/ games

Sight Words to Read and Spell Summary

Precision teaching pack for reading