Retelling Rubrics

Reading A-Z offers a fiction retelling scoring form and a nonfiction retelling scoring form. The forms are simple, universal tools that allow you to quickly and easily assess comprehension.

After reading have students retell the book in their own words. Using the scoring form as a guide, provide prompts as necessary. Listen carefully, and assign each element a point value based on the numbers at the top of the form.  

Complete and Detailed Retelling
Partial Retelling
Fragmentary Retelling
Incorrect Retelling

Complete and Detailed Retelling (3 points)

  • Nonfiction: Includes every main idea, each supported by at least one or two details. Organization follows the scheme of the book (e.g., chronological, explanatory). The student uses vocabulary correctly and in context.
  • Fiction: The major plot elements are retold completely, accurately, and in order. All major characters are included. The problem and resolution are clear. The retelling includes details, minor characters, and non-essential events, but not at the expense of the main story.

Both will show evidence of student inferences and other comprehension skills. 

Partial Retelling (2 points)

  • Nonfiction: This includes most, if not all, of the main ideas. Details may be fragmentary or missing. Vocabulary is included but may be in isolation (e.g., student gives word and definition out of context). Organization is looser, but essential sequences (processes and explanations) remain in order.
  • Fiction: The retelling includes the plot and most major characters. Minor characters and setting may be absent. Events not essential to the plot are missing or out of order.

Fragmentary Retelling (1 point)

  • Nonfiction: This includes the subject but misses main ideas. Details are sketchy or not linked with the idea they support. Organization is loose and random, and mistakes occur in essential sequences. Student tells facts incorrectly.
  • Fiction: The retelling has major holes: central characters left out, incorrect identification of the problem, inability to relate sequence, and/or essential plot points missing.

Incorrect or Omitted Retelling (0 points)

  • Nonfiction: The retelling misses the subject or consistently errs on main ideas.
  • Fiction: The retelling consists of bits and pieces not tied to any plot.


  • If a student needs your guidance at each stage of the retelling, record a 1.
  • If she or he needs “several prompts”, record a 2.
  • If little guidance is needed, record a 3.

Record any general notes or comments. These are not factored into the student's score, but they may help you recall and categorize the retelling when working with that student in the future.

Add the numbers in the rubric to come up with a total score.

  • A skilled reteller (15 to 21 points) is doing well in the area of comprehension. The student can continue her or his advancement through the leveled reading levels.
  • A developing reteller (8 to 14 points) needs a bit more practice with comprehension at this level. Try various subjects, topics, and genres; a book in line with a student's interests can raise retelling ability.
  • A student who needs work (0 to 7 points) may benefit from some review reading at a lower level.  

No matter the score, all students can improve comprehension through frequent retelling. Make quick retellings a routine part of your leveled reading session.