The University of Iowa

Retell as an Indicator of Reading Comprehension


The purpose of this narrative synthesis is to determine the reliability and validity of retell protocols for assessing reading comprehension of students in grades K-12. Fifty-four studies were systematically coded for data related to the administration protocol, scoring procedures, and technical adequacy of the retell component. Retell was moderately correlated with standardized measures of reading comprehension and, with older students, had a lower correlation with decoding and fluency. Literal information was retold more frequently than inferential, and students with learning disabilities or reading difficulties needed more supports to demonstrate adequate recall. Great variability was shown in the prompting procedures, but scoring methods were more consistent across studies. The influences of genre, background knowledge, and organizational features were often specific to particular content, texts, or students. Overall, retell has not yet demonstrated adequacy as a progress monitoring instrument.


Reed, D. K., & Vaughn, S. (2012). Retell as an indicator of reading comprehension. Scientific Studies of Reading, 16, 187-271. doi: 10.1080/10888438.2010.538780

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