How to Increase Student Accountability with Student Led Conferences

young female student sitting at a desk in a classroom

Each year, students sit on the sidelines as their parents talk to their teacher about their academic progress, behavior, and work habits. This happens across all grade levels. The teacher may ask a question or two to the student during the conference, but they mostly sit and listen. There’s a major lack of student accountability.

There’s no doubt what their teacher is saying are all things they’ve heard previous teachers say about them – whether they need improvement, are on grade level, or are going above and beyond. Teachers don’t know what is going through a student’s head while listening in on their conference or if the parents are hearing what we’re saying.

Sound familiar? By the time students have made it to upper elementary, they’ve been through several parent-teacher conferences. Teachers can tell parents and students everything that needs work or ways they can be challenged. The best way to improve and grow in these areas is with student accountability.

Student Led Conference Forms

Student led conferences can be powerful for students of all levels. The whole goal of student led conferences is for students to take ownership of their academics, behavior, and work habits. They do this through self-evaluation, reflection, and goal setting.

Students will soar to new heights with reflection, participation, and support from their parents and teacher. Student accountability increases because they become an active participant in making decisions about their progress at school.

Is a student behaviorally challenging? Most of the time, they’re aware of this. They’ll acknowledge it through self-evaluation and can reflect on what the cause is and how they can work towards improving their behavior.

Are they experiencing difficulty with math? Let the student come up with ways they can work on improving that works best for them.

Is a student not challenged enough, so they’re bored in class? Invite them to come up with ideas they can go further with the content in a meaningful way.

When students have an active voice in their education, they will have accountability and ownership and work hard towards accomplishing their goals.


There is a lot to consider when looking at the progress a student has made at school. It’s easy to look at a student on the surface level and say, “these are the things needing improvement.” How often do we take the time to let the students reflect and grade themselves in different areas? Rarely, I’m sure.


Before their conference, give students a self-evaluation that has them score themselves in several areas – behavior, work habits, and academics. It will surprise you when you see how honest your students are.

A student’s self-evaluation will help them reflect and show the teacher areas that the student feels they need to improve. This is a great conversation starter for parents talking with their child about their progress, too.

Discussing Progress

Students use a script during student led conferences that helps them move through their conference. One of the portions is going over a student data sheet the teacher fills out ahead of time. I took the time to go over this sheet with students before their conference, so they understood what they were looking at.


Take the time to go over the sheet with students before conferences. Previewing the sheet will help students understand what they’re looking at with their parents.

Keep the datasheet simple and to the point. Include things students are familiar with and understand. If you need to include something on the datasheet students and parents may need more clarification on, note it on the sheet, and when you meet with each family, you can go over it.


Or include a brief overview of information along with the datasheet. I did this with DIBELs data. A quick overview of what each score meant helped parents understand the data, and then they were ready with any questions they had.

Creating Goals

With reflection, students should make a quarterly (or other timely) goal. They can make their goal at their student led conference with their parents.

Student reflection + student input + parent support and awareness = student success.

Students create a goal and write it on a SMART goal pennant to display in our classroom. I required goals to be related to academics, behavior, or work habits. If they wanted to make a personal goal for something outside of school (like becoming a better soccer player), they could always do that at home.

Hold students accountable for their goals. Check-in with them occasionally to see if there is any way you can better support them. Celebrate with students when they reach their goals. Keep parents informed on the progress of their child’s goal, or better yet, have students check in with their parents.

Resources for Teaching Students How to Create Achievable Goals

Student Led Conferences Planning Guide Freebie

Your Turn

Even if you’re not sold on starting student led conferences in your classroom, you can easily implement these ideas for increasing student accountability. Try them out, and you’ll be amazed to see the change in mindset your students will have!

Student Led Parent Teacher Conference Forms + Digital Portfolio Bundle

Student led parent-teacher conferences are a great way to involve students in their education!

These forms and digital portfolio can help you organize your own student led conferences this school year.

Student Led Conferences Bundle

Student Accountability Ideas

Looking for more ideas for helping students become more responsible for themselves and accountable for their learning? My upper elementary friends have joined together to share more ideas on this topic! Check out these other blog posts and grab the freebies along the way!

slcaccountability pin