Frameworks for Evaluating Cognitive Complexity in Assessments

Achieve is excited to release three new frameworks – one each for mathematics, reading, and science – for the educator community working on high-quality student assessments. The frameworks, which were developed by content experts and practitioners, can be used to evaluate the cognitive complexity of assessment items (the tasks students must complete on a test) through a series of discipline-specific criteria and processes. 

All statewide summative assessments must require a range of cognitive demand. Educators and assessment experts have grappled with the best way to evaluate individual assessment items for cognitive complexity, particularly in light of new, higher academic standards. Attempting to understand the cognitive complexity of assessment items is not new, but traditional frameworks now fall short because many are broad and content-agnostic. As new standards across all three content areas have become more reflective of the actual work students must do in each content area, understanding the cognitive complexity of the tasks that students complete requires content-specific frameworks. 

Click [] for an introduction to the cognitive complexity frameworks, and download the frameworks themselves at [].