Using Claim, Evidence, Reasoning (CER)

flatwormThe CER framework can be a strategy for students to improve their writing skills and understanding of informational texts.  It was developed as a way to help students become better scientific thinkers and writers.  Many of my labs, classroom activities and data analysis have a CER component.  In fact, I keep a CER chart on my wall.  You can download one for you wall at

As an example of how CER can support reading and understanding texts, I asked my students to read a recent article on how proteins in the cell membrane are associated with pain.   It’s a short article, and students can read it quickly (about 10 minutes.)   I ask students to then create a CER chart that identifies the claim being made,  lists the evidence, and then provides reasoning that illustrates why that evidence is correct for that particular claim, hopefully referencing aspects of the cell membrane.

The article originally was published by Nature and Science News and includes a set of data showing how planarian responds to heated areas.  Those lacking a membrane protein did not avoid areas where there was (presumably) uncomfortable heat.

Article with CER chart:  Cell Membrane Proteins and Pain – CER

Download PDF    Google Doc

The chart can be used for other projects or embedded into lab guides, or used as an exit ticket.   Download a full page CER chart that can be used as a handout or simply keep the framework posted and students can write on their own pages.

Download PDF


Accomplished (3) Proficient (2) Developing (1)
CLAIM Makes an accurate and complete claim, uses complete and grammatically correct sentences Makes an accurate, but incomplete claim, or grammatically incorrect Claim is not accurate, incomplete, or unintelligible
EVIDENCE Provides appropriate and sufficient evidence to support claim by referencing specific data, observations, or text evidence (for readings) Provides appropriate data but insufficient data, too general or lacking in details Provides evidence but it is insufficient, inaccurate, no details
REASONING Provides thorough reasoning that links evidence to the claim, references scientific principles that are relevant to claim Provides reasoning that links evidence to the claim, lacks scientific principles Does not provide reasoning, or reasoning does not link evidence.

Label Version (Print on Labels for exams)

Claim (accurate, complete, grammar)  __3__2__1
Evidence (appropriate, sufficient, data)  __3__2__1
Reasoning (links to claim and sci. principles) 3__2__1

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.8 Evaluate the hypotheses, data, analysis, and conclusions in a science or technical text, verifying the data when possible and corroborating or challenging conclusions with other sources of information.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.9 Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.
HS-LS1-2 Develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting systems that provide specific functions within multicellular organisms

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