What challenges do you see in assessment with student centered learning and how do you overcome those challenges?

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Student-centered instruction allows for choice and for students to take ownership of their learning. So far we have heard some great ideas and ways to implement student centered learning from @david @fichtlis @Laurie_Rigg @tricia.mintner @d.vendramin @chase.kirkpatrick @albertbryant and others. Does this make assessment more difficult or easier? What are you challenges and how do you overcome them? Share a formative you think addresses student centered learning…


One of the challenges I see, and have seen, is time management. How do you manage the student who “whips” ahead or is lagging behind? I have found that if I create layered tasks (multiple entry points perhaps) - ones where the first layer is the basic expectations that everyone needs to achieve, then layers that go deeper or beyond the topic. This could also be accommodated by using formatives as filters, so you know who to give what task to next (Kinda like a Create your own story…) .

Now, I like Scavenger Hunts and Breakouts. (I just learned about a #Fliphunt - cool) These naturally allow kids to work at their own pace. I will build in extra help for those that need it. There is often the best reward for those that get into the box first, but collaboration skills and personal strengths can lead to the first done being those that often think differently, and thus not your usual level 4 kids.

And sometimes you can have different assignments. IEP modifications often require this anyway.

The thing to remember I think, is that as the teacher you aren’t doing all the talking but that doesn’t mean none. It allows you to work the room, listen, discuss, observe, and guide and direct where necessary.



It can be a challenge to change one’s mind set because we are used to a common assessment with one way to show knowledge like a test for example. With student centered learning you might get a variety of learning artifacts. Really important to focus and understand big idea that was to be met and understand that it might be expressed in a variety of ways. Challenge on designing and using an evaluation instrument that will allow for multiple ways to show learning. Keep an open mind, take some risks, and learn/ celebrate mistakes.


Time is your enemy. Either you don’t have enough time to explore and really get the kids to explore and discover (mathematics), or you don’t have time for everyone to present their findings,… or, you don’t have nearly enough time to research/create all the different resources necessary to meet each child’s IEP/ILP/504/High Abillity/natural curiosity needs.

I feel like I’m about as student-centered as my classroom can be at the moment. I’m expected to teach at 9th grade level, but the majority of my students are missing the foundational skills necessary to be successful at that level. Therefore, I give NoteCard Quizzes that focus on 3-4 typical types of errors and link each problem to a specific Formative for remediation and extra practice. Since most of my students come to me at 6th grade ability level or lower, I find that very few students get all the way through my progressive levels before I’m expected to assess them.

I plan fro this school year is to create some challenging/enrichment types of activities for students to explore and ‘hide’ them as Easter Eggs (thanks for the idea @mgarcia). Once students have completed the 2-3 specific requirements for that day, they will have a choice to work ahead, go back and pick up assignments they didn’t get to complete in a previous day, be a peer tutor, or work on an Easter Egg. My focus in the classroom will be making sure that students are ‘solid’ on the mandatory assignments for the day so that they have a ‘solid’ foundation on which to build future concepts in my class. My secondary focus is to have enough choices to meet varied needs, abilities, and interests to keep kids engaged in something that will help them grow as problem solvers instead of ‘escaping’ to their phones, online video games, etc.

As the term progresses and I learn more about how my students learn, I may have to add in audio features or adapt the way I phrase my questions to meet my ELL and IEP kiddos.

I agree Dawn! To me student-centered learning ultimately comes down to the kids being at the center… and doing what’s best for them. Sometimes what’s best is direct instruction. Sometimes the best thing is letting kids explore… and sometimes even to fail (at first) and learn from their mistakes.

This is especially challenging for me. We have seven to nine people who teach Algebra 1. We are expected to use the same test to make things ‘fair’ regardless of the teacher and to prepare students for the ISTEP, our state test… and passing it is required for graduation. We can always do projects in addition to the test, but the paper test is THE assessment for our department. Last year I was able to convince our PLC to have the option of a paper test OR for students to create and conduct surveys, perform calculations, and then present the data to the class!

Of course,… I can always choose to RE-assess students any way I deem fit; paper, oral, whiteboards, etc. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Finding ways to assess different products that students create could be a challenge. I am trying to get my students to assess their own work as much as possible. They challenge there is that students have been trained to wait until someone tells them what is wrong, not figure out what is wrong for themselves or have a peer to assess and critique their work I like to say Student Centered Learning & Assessment.


Time management is a tricky thing across the board. It is also a good skill to teach students so they are empowered to be independent for careers and college.

I love scavenger hunts - alone or in a group, these can help develop problem solving skills.

I try to do this as much as I can. My favorite is sitting with students and disappearing in the crowd and see what happens. Covert observations :slight_smile: