TEKS & Depth of Knowledge

One of the Preconditions for Success (Level IV System Requirements) within Article II: The New Learning Standards of the Visioning Document reads: A comprehensive professional development system that ensures all teachers and principals have a common understanding of the standards to be learned and the level of academic rigor expected in each standard.  This condition is rooted in these two premises:

IIa. Standards should be clear, attainable, and high enough to provide for a system of student performance variance where all can experience success and challenge.

IIb. Learning should be specified to the “profound level,” that is, students are able to apply their learning to new situations, to synthesize, solve problems, create knowledge, and cultivate and utilize the full range of their capabilities.

Norman Webb’s Depth-of-Knowledge is a useful tool to begin to understand the level of depth and complexity, or academic rigor, required by the standards (TEKS).


It is important to note the Depth-of-Knowledge (DoK) level is based on the task it describes.

Consider the Task

  1. Tasks at level 1 require a student to recall information.  Tasks at this level do not need to be solved or figured out.
  2. Tasks at level 2 require a student to describe or explain.  Tasks at this level require students to apply their thinking in contexts different from those in which it was learned.
  3. Tasks at level 3 require a student to apply thinking from more than one context and justify reasoning, as there may be multiple valid responses.  Tasks at this level include real-world problems with predictable outcomes.
  4. Tasks at level 4 require a student to investigate over a period of time.  Tasks at this level involve transfer of thinking between contexts as students solve real-world problems with unpredictable outcomes.

Also, the DoK level of a task cannot be derived from the verb alone.  It is possible for one task at DoK level 1 to require a student to describe something while another task at a higher DoK level also require a student to describe.

Beyond the Verb

Examples include:

  • Level 1: Describe the features of a certain region.
  • Level 2: Describe the cause/effect of a certain event (note: this should not be memorized, but rather asked of a student to apply in a new context).
  • Level 3: Describe the author’s purpose and how it impacts interpretation of a given text.

Not Dependent Upon Grade Level

When reading the content area TEKS, consider the DoK levels.  The DoK level of tasks is not dependent upon grade level.  It is possible for children in kindergarten, like their high school counterparts, to complete tasks at all 4 levels.  When kindergarten learners are asked to collect, sort, and organize data into two or three categories (mathematics K.8A), this may be at level 3 if they are designing the data collection methods and not replicating one modeled for them step-by-step.  In Algebra I, however, students may be asked to complete a task at level 2 when they determine the slope of a line given a table of values […] (A1.3A).

As we strive to better meet the needs of our 21st century learners, we must be aware (and work to increase) the academic rigor of the tasks assigned to our students.


Resources to Consider:



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