The #1 Curriculum and Assessment Partner for Educators

[Edmentum’s Commitment] Proud Participant in the DOK Partner Program

[Edmentum’s Commitment] Proud Participant in the DOK Partner Program

Edmentum has been a premier participant in the WebbAlign® Depth of Knowledge (DOK) Partner Program. We use this program as a means to ensure alignment to standards and assessments through the implementation of the DOK framework. Dr. Norman Webb created the DOK™ framework over 20 years ago and had no idea the impact that it would have. Academic institutions large and small have relied on the DOK framework as a tool to evaluate content, interpret standards, and differentiate complexity. Over the past 20 years, however, standards have changed and become more complex. Standards interpretations have likewise changed, and Dr. Webb and his WebbAlign organization feel that although it’s still an integral tool, the DOK framework needs to be refreshed in order to keep up with the demands associated with more rigorous expectations. As an example, the recent Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have truly pushed the limits of how standards are used and evaluated. 

Over 38 states have already adopted all or part of the new NGSS framework. The ensuing debate on how each state is rolling this out has been a challenge. The typical approach of using standards and corresponding assessment items as the measure of student evaluation has become an outdated practice under more complex frameworks like NGSS. As such, it is time to revisit the traditional DOK model as we forge new paths in an attempt to find consensus.

Edmentum was recently invited to attend a summit hosted by the WebbAlign group to address this concern. We have great respect for WebbAlign, and we were thrilled to attend this two-day conference where experts from across the country were asked for input on potential revisions. Discussion was often lively, and it quickly became evident that this was not an easy task. It was clear that everyone thought refining the current DOK definitions for science would be an asset considering the complexity and scope of the new NGSS standards, but the challenge was finding what this path forward would be. I was honored to have a seat at the table with so many thought leaders from science, assessments, NGSS, and DOK. The passion was contagious, the debate was thought-provoking, and the dedication to quality education was evident. We weren’t able to resolve the challenges presented outright, but we were able to take a small step forward.

While the challenge remains, there are many things we were left to consider. Science has to be more than a series of memorized concepts. We continue to challenge our students through more thoughtful standards and approaches, yet the range of interpretations and implementations of these new standards remain inconsistent and create discrepancies between states and institutions. Through the NGSS framework, we must consider more than just the performance expectations (PE), what the student is expected to know and do. We must also consider each PE relative to the three constituent dimensions:  crosscutting concepts (CCC), science and engineering practices (SEP), and disciplinary core ideas (DCI) as per the Framework for K–12 Science Education released by the National Research Council in 2011. This creates a lot of room for interpretation, especially when attempting to develop curriculum assessments that will align. How do we calibrate among all states? How do we ensure that the true intent of the NGSS developers remains intact? How can we evaluate schools and students on these standards when they remain so complex? What tools or instruments do we use to aide us in these interpretations?

Over the last 20 years, the DOK framework has proven to be a valuable tool for schools and districts. While variation across educational institutions still exists, DOK has acted as a calibration tool to provide a certain amount of consistency. As we move to a standards framework with more complexity, optimizing these DOK summary definitions may prove to be just as integral to the process. It was a privilege to be a part of the conversation, and Edmentum appreciates having the opportunity to be included during such a pivotal time. We look forward to seeing the conversation develop and hope to continue in this important work. I encourage these conversations at every level. How will you implement your new standards? What will NGSS look like in your science classrooms?

Looking for more information on Webb’s Depth of Knowledge framework? Check out this blog post covering the basics!