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Karin J. Hess

Hess, Karin

Dr. Karin Hess has over 35 years of deep experience in curriculum, instruction, and assessment. She is a recognized international leader in developing practical approaches for using cognitive rigor and learning progressions as the foundation for formative, interim, and performance assessments. 

For almost 15 years at the Center for Assessment, Dr. Hess distinguished herself as a content and curriculum and assessment expert in multiple content areas. She has effectively guided many states and US territories in the development of grade level expectations and test specifications for general education and alternate assessments for students with significant cognitive disabilities.


Dr. Hess’s experiences as a state director of gifted education for New Jersey and as a district curriculum director, building principal, and classroom teacher (15 years) enable her to understand the practical implications of her work while maintaining fidelity to research, technical quality, and established best practices.


Dr. Hess has also worked as a program evaluator for the Vermont Mathematics Project; as a content specialist for development of the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) ELA, Math, & Science assessments; and as the developer and editor of Science Exemplars (


She has authored and co-authored books, book chapters, articles, and white papers related to instructional practices, alignment, cognitive rigor, text complexity, and assessment. With Dr. Linda Darling Hammond, she co-led development of the SBAC content specifications for assessment of the Common Core in ELA and mathematics.

Karin's current work has included guiding the development of NH's K-12 Model Competencies for ELA, Mathematics, and Science and supporting school districts in many states in creating and analyzing use of high-quality performance assessments and performance scales for competency-based learning systems.