Assessment Techniques for Reading Comprehension

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  • 0:04 Reading Comprehension
  • 1:01 Predict
  • 2:12 Identify
  • 3:12 Visualize
  • 4:20 Connect and Evaluate
  • 6:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

Need to assess your students' reading ability? Not quite sure where to begin? This lesson describes several techniques reading teachers can use to assess students' reading comprehension.

Reading Comprehension

Reading. It's a very simple word, but a very complex process. Its internal nature is what makes it so complicated. You can't physically observe what is going on in another person's head; so, as a reading teacher, how do you assess for reading comprehension?

Let's first look at each of those terms. Reading comprehension refers to a student's ability to understand the meaning of a text. Thus, student assessment for reading refers to the evaluation of an individual's ability to understand text. Some believe a reading teacher can ask simple recall questions to see if a student has understood what was read. However, true reading comprehension goes far beyond simple recall.

So with all this in mind, what are some ways to assess your students' reading skills?


The first technique is to work on your students' ability to predict, which means to make an educated guess about what might happen. Effective predictions must make sense within the context of the reading.

Start with making predictions before reading the text. Have students decipher the possible meanings of titles and subtitles. Examine any pictures or images and connect those to the titles. If there are graphs, have students try to explain what the graph might mean. Putting all this information together, students can guess at what might happen in the text.

Furthermore, do not only use predictions before the reading. In order to assess whether students understand text, stop at certain points throughout the reading to make predictions. Have students use the knowledge already learned about the characters and story elements to predict what will happen next. Lastly, return to all predictions after the selection is finished to see who was correct. How accurate and thoughtful your students' predictions are allows you to assess reading comprehension.


The second reading skill to use for assessment is identify, which means to indicate important elements of a reading. Two examples of those elements are the author's purpose, which is the reason for writing, and the themes, or the messages in the selection.

Identifying the author's purpose can help you evaluate how well a student understands the overall goal of the text. Texts are written for many reasons, but those reasons are rarely explicit. If your students can identify the author's purpose, it shows a deeper understanding of the text. The same is true for the themes. One way to assess for themes is to ask your students to state what lessons can be learned from the reading. Have them use details from the story to support their answers. Identifying the author's purpose and major themes will tell you if they are processing the important story elements in the text.


Visualization, the next skill to assess, means to see in one's mind all the details from the story. Helping students connect the written words with actual visible scenes is very important to understanding the content. First, help students organize the details in their minds. Reread written sections that are very descriptive. Ask students to think about the descriptive words and relate them to actual things they have seen.

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