Criteria for Evaluating Inference
Inference essays are evaluated according to four features:

1) Stating a valid conclusion
2) Presenting evidence in support of the conclusion
3) Explaining why the evidence supports the conclusion, and
4) When appropriate, considering alternative interpretations.

The fourth feature is optional in evaluating students’ written work, although it should routinely be considered in the lesson discussion.
Each feature is rated on a scale from 1 (low) to 4 (high). A score of one generally indicates that the feature is absent or inaccurate, while a score of four indicates that the feature is fully developed. Do not score the essay if it is off task. An explanation of the basis for each score point follows:

The essay states a valid, acceptable conclusion. The conclusion is specific and accurate. The statement of the conclusion is elaborated by a fuller introduction that may include background, context, importance, or the types of information or evidence to be presented as support. 4
The essay simply states a specific, valid conclusion. 3
The essay implies the conclusion or generalization, but does not state it. Wrong conclusion with some evidence. 2
The conclusion is either not stated at all or it is inaccurately stated. 1
The essay presents evidence of information that is specific, accurate, relevant, and more than sufficient to support the conclusion 4
The essay presents just enough evidence or information to support the conclusion. There may be some general descriptions of evidence or something slightly questionable. Most of the evidence is specific, accurate, relevant, and adequate to support the conclusion. 3
The evidence is not strong enough to support the conclusion. Some of the evidence may be specific, but most of it may be general or vague. Some evidence may be questionable. Evidence supports wrong conclusion. 2
Little or no evidence supports the conclusion. The evidence may be mostly vague, confusing and inaccurate. 1
The essay explains clearly, accurately, and thoroughly why the evidence presented supports the conclusion. Explanatory statements may summarize the relevance of the body of evidence, or may explain each type of evidence. 4
The essay presents some explanations of why most of the evidence supports the conclusion. 3
The essay may attempt an explanatory statement, but clear reasons are not given for the relevance of the evidence to the conclusion 2
No explanations are offered, or they are confusing or inaccurate. 1
The essay discusses how additional evidence or the same evidence may lead to different conclusions. 4
The essay states one or more alternative interpretations that may derive from the same or additional evidence; however, there is no discussion. 3
The essay asserts that there may be alternative interpretations, without specifying what they are. 2
No mention is made of alternative interpretations or the alternative offered seems completely inappropriate. 1


(MIT2000, Feb. 20Th. 1999)
From: Stiggings’ Student -Centered Classroom Assessment, to illustrate the use and development of criteria for assessing student writing.