Year 4

English Support Materials

English snapshots: Assessing reading: synthesis, inference and evaluation

English/Literacy/Interpreting, analysing, evaluating

Content DescriptionRelevant aspects of the Achievement Standards

Use comprehension strategies to build literal and inferred meaning to expand content knowledge, integrating and linking ideas and analysing and evaluating texts

Students describe literal and implied meaning connecting ideas in different texts.

Nature of the assessment

Evaluation of NAPLAN data; ongoing teacher monitoring


The NAPLAN data showed that the school Year 7 mean in reading was below the state mean and the mean of similar schools. The Year 7 mean in numeracy however was significantly above the state mean. The Year 5 reading data showed that there was a tendency for students to get some of the harder questions wrong, particularly those that required students to infer and evaluate. There was also a trend for student performance to fall away from Year 5 to Year 7.

Stage in the teaching sequence

Start of Term 4 ongoing

Monitoring program

Working together the Year 4 and 5 teachers established an ongoing monitoring program that not only allowed them to better understand their students' reading abilities but also to teach important skills. 

  1. At regular intervals students were asked to write a summary of a text. This allowed the teachers to ascertain whether students could select important ideas, eliminate irrelevant details and redundancies and integrate ideas.
  2. The teachers established a routine involving reciprocal questioning. Before establishing the routine, the teachers had taught the students about the different types of questions that can be asked about a text, such as questions requiring observation and recall; summarising information; synthesis; and reflection or evaluation.
    The teachers began each post-reading discussion by calling on a student to ask a question. The teachers would then elicit brief discussion from the other students about what type of question it was. They would then direct that question to another student to answer and so forth. The purpose of routine was to encourage students to ask questions that required higher order thinking, and the teachers used various strategies to model and reinforce this.
  3. Where appropriate, the teachers asked individual students questions about how they tackled a problem with comprehension and interpretation. 

Using the information

  1. The teachers used students' summaries to inform differentiated instruction, and as a result the teachers selected more complex texts for some students, and worked closely with some groups of students to teach and practice the necessary skills.
  2. The questioning routine allowed the teachers to gauge the students' ability to draw inferences and evaluate texts. They used 'teaching moments' to reinforce and extend these skills.
  3. The one-to-one discussion between teachers about how students tackled reading comprehension questions provided information about students' metacognitive reading strategies. As a result it provided the teachers with opportunities to remind students to use strategies such as rereading to see if they had misunderstood some information.

Overview of research 

View the overview of research for this snapshot.