A critical analysis of the implementation of depth of knowledge and preliminary findings regarding its effectiveness in language arts achievement

Carol Elizabeth Ferguson Viator


Mississippi implemented its new curriculum standards with depth of knowledge (DOK) goals in 2007, but successful educational reform requires effective professional development that prepares teachers to make the needed instructional changes. This study evaluated whether there were statistically significant relationships among professional development duration, frequency, type of training, utilization of training in instruction and assessment, and teachers' perceptions of instructional and assessment implementation practices and language arts achievement for third, fourth, and fifth graders as measured by the MCT2 language arts assessment. The study also evaluated teacher perceptions of the implementation of depth of knowledge in instruction and assessment and how these perceptions relate to student achievement. The project was conducted in 3 months and involved third, fourth, and fifth grade teachers in 63 elementary schools in 31 districts throughout the state of Mississippi. Multiple regression analysis was used to identify statistically significant relationships among dimensions of professional development and language arts achievement in the specified grades. The study showed that the factor most closely associated with student achievement was the student's socioeconomic status, but the study also indicated a statistically significant relationships between student achievement and the duration of training, the amount of training received by teacher, the level of teacher accountability, and teachers' perceptions of adapting assessment practices that require DOK levels. This study did not yield a statistically significant relationship with student achievement among the variables of implementation practices, teacher perception of implementation of new strategies during instruction and assessment, and teacher perception of the use of cognitive levels of DOK when designing assessment practice.