Assessment Alley: Third Grade Literacy Profile

Comprehension and Reading Response

Literacy Profile
What Third Graders Should Know
Phonological Awareness and Oral Language Development
Concepts of Print, Letter Identification, and Text Features
Decoding Skills and Word Analysis
Reading Strategies, Processes, and Dispositions
Reading Accuracy and Fluency at Increasing Text Levels
Comprehension and Reading Response
Writing Strategies, Processes, and Dispositions
Writing Effectiveness
Writing Conventions and Handwriting
Related Resources
Meet the Author


Comprehension and reading response includes how well students understand what they read and how they connect to or represent their reactions, feelings, and thoughts about was read.  Moreover, Biggam describes this component by writing, "when readers comprehend they get meaning from text, but they also make their own meaning" (Biggam 143).  Comprehension strategies, background knowledge, knowledge about the text, and motivation/engagement all influence success in reading.

At third grade, these skills include:

         retelling fiction texts with beginning, main events, solutions, setting, and characters

         summarizing nonfiction text with main ideas and supporting details

         using evidence from text to support responses

         answering literal and inferential questions

         identifying character traits


         recognizing author's craft, figurative language, and dialogue


Anticipation Guide

Anticipation guides are statements (usually agree/disagree) students read before reading the main text (usually nonfiction, but not always).  Students read the statements about the selected topic and select whether they agree or disagree (sometimes they select if they think the statements are true or false).  Then, students read the main text independently or as a whole class.  After reading, students revisit their anticipation guide and mark whether their initial thoughts were correct or incorrect.  Finally, students use examples from the text to support their final choices.


Anticipation guides provide teachers with two types of valuable information.  Students' initial answers provide insight into their background knowledge.  If previewed in advance of the lesson, teachers can adjust their content to the individual needs of their class.  Students' final answers assess whether or not they can accurately pull concepts out of text and support their ideas with information from the text.


View a sample Anticipation Guide here.


Reading Summary

To assess comprehension and response, students write short summaries (usually a paragraph for third grade). These summaries assess whether students are able to retell what they've read accurately in their own words.  Summaries can be scored using a checklist or an example (written in advance by the teacher). Summaries should include a topic sentence, supporting details from the text, and a concluding sentence (all paraphrased).


When assessing summaries, teachers should assess whether students' responses reflect excellent understanding of the text and include almost all important information and main ideas. 


View a sample reading summary checklist here.


Sometimes it is tempting to think that as long as children can decode the text at hand, their comprehension of that text will automatically follow. We know, however, that most children need both explicit instruction and supported practice in order to become better at comprehending (Biggam 157). The following interventions can help students who struggled with comprehension and written response.

Question-Answer Relationships

For students who over rely on inaccurate or limited background knowledge instead of information in the text (as shown in poor Anticipation Guide performance), intensive instruction on Question-Answer Relationships (QAR) is needed.  The QAR framework helps teachers and students think about the levels of questions and what kinds of thinking the questions require.  Using the QAR approach can help students be more purposeful readers by differentiating when to rely on answers "in their head" and when to search the text for "in the book" answers.


It may be helpful to provide struggling students with this chart to remind them of different types of Question-Answer Relationships. 


Read-Pause-Retell-Reread Technique

Third grade students are approaching the age where the Read-Pause-Retell-Reread Technique can be utilized.  In this technique, the teacher models reading a section of text, pausing, and then retelling the "gist' of what was read.  The teacher and students then judge how well the retelling captures the main idea of the text.  If the retelling is not complete, the teacher models rereading and retelling a second time.


After modeling, the teacher has pairs of students practice this technique.  One partner is the Reteller and one partner is the Listener.  Both partners read the section.  The Reteller provides a summary and the Listener decides if it is acceptable.  Finally, partners trade roles. 

This approach is especially helpful for struggling readers because they recognize the benefit of rereading for information and learn to use retelling as a self-monitoring comprehension tool.

Last updated: April 16, 2009