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Reading Value Rubric

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The VALUE rubrics were developed by teams of faculty experts representing colleges and universities across the United States through a process that examined many existing campus rubrics and related documents for each learning outcome and incorporated additional feedback from faculty. The rubrics articulate fundamental criteria for each learning outcome, with performance descriptors demonstrating progressively more sophisticated levels of attainment. The rubrics are intended for institutional-level use in evaluating and discussing student learning, not for grading. The core expectations articulated in all 15 of the VALUE rubrics can and should be translated into the language of individual campuses, disciplines, and even courses. The utility of the VALUE rubrics is to position learning at all undergraduate levels within a basic framework of expectations such that evidence of learning can by shared nationally through a common dialog and understanding of student success.


Reading is "the process of simultaneously extracting and constructing meaning through interaction and involvement with written language" (Snow et al, 2002).

Framing Language

To paraphrase Phaedrus, texts do not explain, nor answer questions about, themselves. They must be located, approached, decoded, comprehended, analyzed, interpreted, and discussed, especially complex academic texts used in college and university classrooms for purposes of learning. Historically, college professors have not considered the teaching of reading necessary other than as a "basic skill" in which students may require "remediation." They have assumed that students come with the ability to read and have placed responsibility for its absence on teachers in elementary and secondary schools.

This absence of reading instruction in higher education must, can, and will change, and this rubric marks a direction for this change. Why the change? Even the strongest, most experienced readers making the transition from high school to college have not learned what they need to know and do to make sense of texts in the context of professional and academic scholarship--to say nothing about readers who are either not as strong or as experienced. Also, readers mature and develop their repertoire of reading performances naturally during the undergraduate years and beyond as a consequence of meeting textual challenges. This rubric provides some initial steps toward finding ways to measure undergraduate students' progress along the continuum. Our intention in creating this rubric is to support and promote the teaching of undergraduates as readers to take on increasingly higher levels of concerns with texts and to read as one of “those who comprehend.”

Readers, as they move beyond their undergraduate experiences, should be motivated to approach texts and respond to them with a reflective level of curiosity and the ability to apply aspects of the texts they approach to a variety of aspects in their lives. This rubric provides the framework for evaluating both students' developing relationship to texts and their relative success with the range of texts their coursework introduces them to. It is likely that users of this rubric will detect that the cell boundaries are permeable, and the criteria of the rubric are, to a degree, interrelated.


The definitions that follow were developed to clarify terms and concepts used in this rubric only.

  • Analysis: The process of recognizing and using features of a text to build a more advanced understanding of the meaning of a text. (Might include evaluation of genre, language, tone, stated purpose, explicit or implicit logic (including flaws of reasoning), and historical context as they contribute to the meaning of a text.]
  • Comprehension: The extent to which a reader "gets" the text, both literally and figuratively. Accomplished and sophisticated readers will have moved from being able to "get" the meaning that the language of the texte provides to being able to "get" the implications of the text, the questions it raises, and the counterarguments one might suggest in response to it. A helpful and accessible discussion of 'comprehension' is found in Chapter 2 of the RAND report, Reading for Understanding:
  • Epistemological lens: The knowledge framework a reader develops in a specific discipline as s/he moves through an academic major (e.g. essays, textbook chapters, literary works, journal articles, lab reports, grant proposals, lectures, blogs, webpages, or literature reviews, for example). The depth and breadth of this knowledge provides the foundation for independent and self-regulated responses to the range of texts in any discipline or field that students will encounter.
  • Genre: A particular kind of "text" defined by a set of disciplinary conventions or agreements learned through participation in academic discourse. Genre governs what texts can be about, how they are structured, what to expect from them , what can be done with them, how to use them
  • Interpretation: Determining or construing the meaning of a text or part of a text in a particular way based on textual and contextual information.
  • Interpretive Strategies: Purposeful approaches from different perspectives, which include, for example, asking clarifying questions, building knowledge of the context in which a text was written, visualizing and considering counterfactuals (asking questions that challenge the assumptions or claims of the text, e.g., What might our country be like if the Civil War had not happened? How would Hamlet be different if Hamlet had simply killed the King?).
  • Multiple Perspectives: Consideration of how text-based meanings might differ depending on point of view.
  • Parts: Titles, headings, meaning of vocabulary from context, structure of the text, important ideas and relationships among those ideas.
  • Relationship to text: The set of expectations and intentions a reader brings to a particular text or set of texts.
  • Searches intentionally for relationships: An active and highly-aware quality of thinking closely related to inquiry and research.
  • Takes texts apart: Discerns the level of importance or abstraction of textual elements and sees big and small pieces as parts of the whole meaning (compare to Analysis above).
  • Metacognition: This is not a word that appears explicitly anywhere in the rubric, but it is implicit in a number of the descriptors, and is certainly a term that we find frequently in discussions of successful and rich learning.. Metacognition, (a term typically attributed to the cognitive psychologist J.H. Flavell) applied to reading refers to the awareness, deliberateness, and reflexivity defining the activities and strategies that readers must control in order to work their ways effectively through different sorts of texts, from lab reports to sonnets, from math texts to historical narratives, or from grant applications to graphic novels, for example. Metacognition refers here as well to an accomplished reader’s ability to consider the ethos reflected in any such text; to know that one is present and should be considered in any use of, or response to a text.


Reading is "the process of simultaneously extracting and constructing meaning through interaction and involvement with written language" (Snow et al, 2002).

Evaluators are encouraged to assign a zero to any work sample or collection of work that does not meet benchmark (cell one) level performance.

  Capstone Milestones Benchmark

Level Performance

4 3 2 1
Comprehension Recognizes possible implications of the text for contexts, perspectives or issues beyond the assigned task within the classroom or beyond the author’s explicit message (e.g., might recognize broader issues at play, or might pose challenges to the author’s message and presentation). Uses the text, general background knowledge and/or specific knowledge of the author’s context to draw more complex inferences about the author’s message and attitude. Evaluates how textual features (e.g., sentence and paragraph structure or tone) contribute to the author’s message; draws basic inferences about context and purpose of text. Apprehends vocabulary appropriately to paraphrase or summarize the information the text communicates.
Genres Uses ability to identify texts within and across genres, monitoring and adjusting reading strategies and expectations based on generic nuances of particular texts. Articulates distinctions among genres and their characteristic conventions. Reflects on reading experiences across a variety of genres, reading both with and against the grain experimentally and intentionally. Applies tacit genre knowledge to a variety of classroom reading assignments in productive, if unreflective, ways.
Relationship to text
Making meanings with texts in their contexts
Evaluates texts for scholarly significance and relevance within and across the various disciplines, evaluating them according to their contributions and consequences. Uses texts in the context of scholarship to develop a foundation of disciplinary knowledge and to raise and explore important questions. Engages texts with the intention and expectation of building topical and world knowledge. Approaches texts in the context of assignments with the intention and expectation of finding right answers and learning facts and concepts to display for credit.
Interacting with Texts in Parts ans Wholes
Evaluates strategies for relating ideas, text structure or other textual features in order to build knowledge or insight within and across texts and disciplines. Identifies relations among ideas, text structure, or other textual features, to evaluate how they support an advanced understanding of the text as a whole. Recognizes relations among parts or aspects of a text, such as effective or ineffective arguments or literary features, in considering how these contribute to a basic understanding of the text as a whole. Identifies aspects of a text (e.g., content, structure or relations among ideas) as needed to respond to questions posed in assigned tasks.
Making Sense with Texts as Blueprints for Meaning
Provides evidence not only that s/he can read by using an appropriate epistemological lens but that s/he can also engage in reading as part of a continuing dialogue within and beyond a discipline or a community of readers. Articulates an understanding of the multiple ways of reading and the range of interpretive strategies particular to one's discipline(s) or in a given community of readers. Demonstrates that s/he can read purposefully, choosing among interpretive strategies depending on the purpose of the reading. Can identify purpose(s) for reading, relying on an external authority such as an instructor for clarification of the task.
Reader's Voice
Participating in Academic Discourse about Texts
Discusses texts with an independent intellectual and ethical disposition so as to further or maintain disciplinary conversations. Elaborates on the texts (through interpretation or questioning) so as to deepen or enhance an ongoing discussion. Discusses texts in structured conversations (such as in a classroom) in ways that contribute to a basic, shared understanding of the text. Comments about texts in ways that preserve the author's meanings and link them to the assignment