Learners stretch themselves intellectually and personally by engaging with skills, habits, and content in challenging, developmentally appropriate ways.

Rigor begins with a commitment to the belief that each individual is capable of learning at high levels (Blackburn, 2012). These high levels of learning reflect the furthest extents of Bloom’s, Webb’s, and Marzano’s educational taxonomies and are affirmed by high expectations that set learners up for success (Bloom, 1975; Webb, 1997; Marzano, 2000). Learners learn best when they are supported and provided with opportunities to demonstrate mastery by showing they can apply what they have learned at these high levels (Williamson & Blackburn, 2010; Wagner, 2008). In effective, rigorous classrooms, learners take the lead on their own cognitive development by actively and passionately engaging in the work of learning (Prince, 2004; Hattie, 2009). This prepares learners to deeply understand complex content and develops the skills and habits needed to think at the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, including analysis, synthesis, and evaluation (Bloom, 1975; National Research Council, 2001). Ultimately, rigor equips learners to attain mastery of learning that can be transferred and applied across academic and real-world contexts.

Rigor Look Fors

cognitive lift, rigor

Learners do the majority of the cognitive lifting—explaining, making connections, addressing questions, etc.—during written work and discourse.

higher-order thinking, rigor

Learners employ higher-order thinking skills, such as applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating to complete learning activities.

essential knowledge, rigor

Learners engage deeply with complex and challenging facts and concepts that build a meaningful foundation of knowledge.

social emotional habits, rigor

Learners consciously apply the key social emotional habits necessary for lifelong success to their interpersonal and intrapersonal activities.