Student Responsibility: Holding Oneself Accountable

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When students hold themselves accountable for their progress, they not only excel academically but they also become more empowered and invested in their learning. Students are more likely to see failure as an opportunity to learn and are better able to accomplish the goals they set for themselves. Accountability has the potential to increase student effort, which some research suggests is possibly “the most important input in the education process”: the more effort a student puts in, the more they will learn (Tyner & Petrilli, 2018).

Accountability has the potential to increase student effort, which some research suggests is possibly “the most important input in the education process.”

While helping students remain account-able for themselves and for their learning is always important, it can be especially valuable during this time of stay-at-home advisories and self-isolation. As students and their families navigate these changes to daily life, ensuring that students take ownership of their learning can alleviate stress felt by educators and parents, who are managing their own set of challenges. Building a student’s account-ability also ensures that they remain on a successful trajectory regardless of educational challenges they currently face.

Similar to other social-emotional learning skills, students can be taught accountability in different ways, including the following:

  • Model accountable behavior. When adults demonstrate how to hold one-self accountable, students will better understand what accountable behavior is and learn by example.
  • Work with students to create personal improvement plans or set SMART* goals, and then verify the plan or goals by having students and adults sign off on it (McCullough, 2020).
  • Create a rubric for the class to grade their own daily or weekly commitment to schoolwork and social-emotional learning goals. Doing so will get the student involved and invested in their education and will create both team and individual accountability.
  • Create classroom rules together with students, sending a message of respect and community (Center for Responsive Schools, 2003; Graham, n.d.).

Teaching students to be account-able for their own progress and success is not an easy feat, but it can be done with consistent practice and modeling. When students actively invest them-selves in their education, they will likely be pleased with the positive outcomes.


  • Center for Responsive Schools. (2003, April 1). Bringing classroom rules to life. classroom-rules-to-life/
  • Graham, E. (n.d.). Keeping students accountable. National Education Association. Retrieved March 20, 2020, from http://www.nea. org/tools/54212.htm
  • McCullough, R. (2020). Help your middle school students set goals to reset. Journal of Social and Emotional Learning, 1(7), 4.
  • Tyner, A., & Petrilli, M. J. (2018, May 30). The case for holding students accountable. The Thomas B. Fordham Institute. https://