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Depth of Knowledge Levels Descriptions for Reading and Writing

The Role and Importance of Cognitive Complexity Standards Webb DOK - Literacy

DOK Levels for Reading

Reading Level 1 (Recall): Level 1 requires students to receive or recite facts or to use simple skills or abilities. Oral reading that does not include analysis of the text, as well as basic comprehension of a text, is included. Items require only a shallow understanding of the text presented and often consist of verbatim recall from text, slight paraphrasing of specific details from the text, or simple understanding of a single word or phrase. Some examples that represent, but do not constitute all of, Level 1 performance are:

  • Support ideas by reference to verbatim or only slightly paraphrased details from the text.
  • Use a dictionary to find the meanings of words.
  • Recognize figurative language in a reading passage.

Reading Level 2 (Skill/Concept): Level 2 includes the engagement of some mental processing beyond recalling or reproducing a response; it requires both comprehension and subsequent processing of text or portions of text. Inter-sentence analysis of inference is required. Some important concepts are covered, but not in a complex way. Standards and items at this level may include words such as summarize, interpret, infer, classify, organize, collect, display, compare, and determine whether fact or opinion. Literal main ideas are stressed. A Level 2 assessment item may require students to apply skills and concepts that are covered in Level 1. However, items require closer understanding of text, possibly through the item’s paraphrasing of both the question and the answer. Some examples that represent, but do not constitute all of, Level 2 performance are:

  • Use context cues to identify the meaning of unfamiliar words, phrases, and expressions that could otherwise have multiple meanings.
  • Predict a logical outcome based on information in a reading selection.
  • Identify and summarize the major events in a narrative.

Reading Level 3 (Strategic Thinking): Deep knowledge becomes a greater focus at Level 3. Students are encouraged to go beyond the text; however, they are still required to show understanding of the ideas in the text. Students may be encouraged to explain, generalize, or connect ideas. Standards and items at Level 3 involve reasoning and planning. Students must be able to support their thinking. Items may involve abstract theme identification, inference across an entire passage, or students’ application of prior knowledge. Items may also involve more superficial connections between texts. Some examples that represent, but do not constitute all of, Level 3 performance are:

  • Explain or recognize how the author’s purpose affects the interpretation of a reading selection.
  • Summarize information from multiple sources to address a specific topic.
  • Analyze and describe the characteristics of various types of literature.

Reading Level 4 (Extended Thinking): Higher-order thinking is central and knowledge is deep at Level 4. The standard or assessment item at this level will probably be an extended activity, with extended time provided for completing it. The extended time period is not a distinguishing factor if the required work is only repetitive and does not require the application of significant conceptual understanding and higher-order thinking. Students take information from at least one passage of a text and are asked to apply this information to a new task. They may also be asked to develop hypotheses and perform complex analyses of the connections among texts. Some examples that represent, but do not constitute all of, Level 4 performance are:

  • Analyze and synthesize information from multiple sources.
  • Examine and explain alternative perspectives across a variety of sources.
  • Describe and illustrate how common themes are found across texts from different cultures.

DOK Levels for Writing

Writing Level 1 (Recall): Level 1 requires the student to write or recite simple facts. The focus of this writing or recitation is not on complex synthesis or analysis, but on basic ideas. The students are asked to list ideas or words, as in a brainstorming activity, prior to written composition; are engaged in a simple spelling or vocabulary assessment; or are asked to write simple sentences. Students are expected to write, speak, and edit using the conventions of Standard English. This includes using appropriate grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling. Students demonstrate a basic understanding and appropriate use of such reference materials as a dictionary, thesaurus, or Web site. Some examples that represent, but do not constitute all of, Level 1 performance are:

  • Use punctuation marks correctly.
  • Identify Standard English grammatical structures, including the correct use of verb tenses.

Writing Level 2 (Skill/Concept): Level 2 requires some mental processing. At this level, students are engaged in first-draft writing or brief extemporaneous speaking for a limited number of purposes and audiences. Students are expected to begin connecting ideas, using a simple organizational structure. For example, students may be engaged in note-taking, outlining, or simple summaries. Text may be limited to one paragraph. Some examples that represent, but do not constitute all of, Level 2 performance are:

  • Construct or edit compound or complex sentences, with attention to correct use of phrases and clauses.
  • Use simple organizational strategies to structure written work.
  • Write summaries that contain the main idea of the reading selection and pertinent details.

Writing Level 3 (Strategic Thinking): Level 3 requires some higher-level mental processing. Students are engaged in developing compositions that include multiple paragraphs. These compositions may include complex sentence structure and may demonstrate some synthesis and analysis. Students show awareness of their audience and purpose through focus, organization, and the use of appropriate compositional elements. The use of appropriate compositional elements includes such things as addressing chronological order in a narrative, or including supporting facts and details in an informational report. At this stage, students are engaged in editing and revising to improve the quality of the composition. Some examples that represent, but do not constitute all of, Level 3 performance are:

  • Support ideas with details and examples.
  • Use voice appropriate to the purpose and audience.
  • Edit writing to produce a logical progression of ideas.

Writing Level 4 (Extended Thinking): Higher-level thinking is central to Level 4. The standard at this level is a multi-paragraph composition that demonstrates the ability to synthesize and analyze complex ideas or themes. There is evidence of a deep awareness of purpose and audience. For example, informational papers include hypotheses and supporting evidence. Students are expected to create compositions that demonstrate a distinct voice and that stimulate the reader or listener to consider new perspectives on the addressed ideas and themes. An example that represents, but does not constitute all of, Level 4 performance is:

  • Write an analysis of two selections, identifying the common theme and generating a purpose that is appropriate for both.