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Karin Hess, author of the Hess Cognitive Rigor Matrix, is a recognized international leader in developing practical approaches for using DOK and learning progressions as the foundation for curriculum and formative and performance-based assessments at all levels of assessment systems.

For almost 15 years at the Center for Assessment, Dr. Hess distinguished herself as a content, assessment design, and alignment expert in multiple content areas, K-12 (e.g., Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium/SBAC) and alternate assessments for students with significant cognitive disabilities. She also contributed to Maine’s early thinking about how to structure requirements for graduation exhibitions, led NH's development of model academic competencies, and currently provides in-depth guidance in many states for local development and use of performance assessments in competency-based educational systems.

Karin has been a technical advisor for EL Education’s development of criteria for high-quality student work, Renaissance Learning’s application of learning progressions, the WIDA consortium revisions to the ELD Standards Framework (2020 Edition), and to numerous state departments of education across the US.

Dr. Hess’s experiences as a state director of gifted education in New Jersey and as a K-12 curriculum director, building principal, and classroom teacher for 15 years enable her to understand the practical implications of her work while maintaining fidelity to research, technical quality, and established best practices. Her most recent publications include authoring a chapter in the second edition of Fundamentals of Literacy Instruction and Assessment, Pre-K–6, (Hougen & Smartt, Eds., 2020); co-developer of Benchmark Education’s Ready to Advance Curriculum for Pre-K (2019); author of A Local Assessment Toolkit to Promote Deeper Learning: Transforming Research into Practice (2018); co-author of Deeper Competency-Based Learning (2020); Rigor by Design, Not Chance: Deeper Thinking Through Actionable Instruction and Assessment (2023) and co-author of Elevating Competency-Based Learning in a PLC Work: Actionable Assessment, Defensible Evidence, Equitable Grading (2024).

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