top of page

Cognitive Rigor & DOK Focus Area

The Hess Cognitive Rigor Matrices (CRMs)

Used in classrooms across the U.S.

and translated for use in many countries around the world!

My forthcoming book (2025), Applying Depth of Knowledge and Cognitive Rigor: An Educator's Guide to Supporting Deeper Learning, builds on my earlier books, providing an in-depth approach to introducing DOK and cognitive rigor and with hands-on activities using the Hess CRMs to plan instruction and design assessments for learning transfer.


LISTEN to a 2024 podcast with Karin, "Planning for Rigor" with Chrissy Beltran, posted by Instructional Coaching with Ms. B.


See an excerpt from Rigor by Design, Not Chance (2023) - THE ACTIONABLE ASSESSMENT CYCLE

For an overview of DOK, cognitive rigor, and common misconceptions, watch my September 2021 webinar, sponsored by Mentoring Minds: Looking for Rigor in All the 'Right' Places

To Download the Hess CRMs, click onto each TOOL below

- Tool #1: Close Reading & Listening CRM

- Tool #2: Math & Science CRM 

- Tool #3: Written & Oral Communication CRM

- Tool #4: Social Studies & Humanities CRM

Versions with new numbering also available for downloading

- Tool # 5A: Fine Arts CRM                                     [TOOL#5 Fine Arts CRM] 

- Tool # 5B: Health & Physical Education CRM   [TOOL #6 Health & Physical Education CRM]

Tool # 5C: World Languages CRM                      [TOOL #7 World Languages CRM]

- Tool # 5D: Career & Technical Education CRM [TOOL #8 Career & Technical Education CRM]


SPANISH versions of Hess CRMs: Tools #1-5D

7 Common Misconceptions about Rigor & DOK


Karin's work is referenced in many excellent educational resources, explored in both undergraduate pre-service teacher training courses, and applied in numerous research studies.


Just a few of the resources referencing Karin's work or have chapters by Karin:

Ainsworth, L. & Donovan, K. (2019). Rigorous Curriculum Design. (second edition). The International Center for Leadership in Education. 


Ainsworth, L. (2015) Common Formative Assessment 2.0. Corwin.

Bailey, K. & Jakicic, C. (2016). Simplifying Common Assessment. Solution Tree Press.

Berger, R., Woodfin, L., & Vilen, A. (2016). Learning that Lasts. EL Education & Jossey-Bass.


Blackburn, B. (2022) Rigor in your Classroom:  A Toolkit for Teachers – Second Edition. Routledge.


Brulles, D., Brown, K., & Winebrenner, S. (2016). Differentiated Lessons for Every Learner. Prufrock Press.

Center for Collaborative Education. (2012). Quality Performance Assessment: A Guide for Schools and Districts. Boston, MA: Author.


Colby, R. (2017). Competency-Based Education: A New Architecture for K-12 Schooling. Harvard Education Press. 


Francis, E. (2021). Deconstructing Depth of Knowledge: A Method & Model for Deeper Teaching and Learning. Solution Tree.


Francis, E. (2016). Now That’s a Good Question! ASCD.

Gibson, V., Cárdenas-Hagan, E., & Hess, K. (2019). Ready to Advance: A New Comprehensive Early Learning Curriculum. Benchmark Education Company.


Hogan, M. & Smart, S. (2020). Fundamentals of Literacy Instruction and Assessment, PreK-6, Second Edition. Paul Brookes Pub.


Love, S. & Strobaugh, R. (2019-2021). Critical Thinking in the Classroom: A Practitioner's Guide. Tyler, TX: Mentoring Minds.


Pijanowski, L. (2018). Architects of Deeper Learning Intentional Design for High Impact Instruction. The International Center for Leadership in Education.


Sousa, D. (2022). How the Brain Learns, 6th edition. Corwin


Stack, B. & Vander Els, J. (2017). Breaking with Tradition: The Shift to Competency-Based Learning in PLCs. Solution Tree.


Vander Els, J. & Stack, B. (2022). Unpacking the Competency-Based Classroom: Equitable, Individualized Learning in a PLC at Work. Solution Tree.


Walsh, J.A. & Sattes, B. D. (2017). Quality questioning: Research-based practices to engage every learner. (2nd Ed).  A Joint Publication: McREL International & Corwin.

Winebrenner, S. & Kiss, L. (2014). Teaching Kids with Learning Difficulties in Today’s Classrooms. Free Spirit Publishing.

bottom of page