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How the Progressive Achievement approach empowers students to take part in their learning

How the Progressive Achievement approach empowers students to take part in their learning

Feature 4 minute read

In a September 2022 webinar, ACER’s Education Consultant Marc Kralj explored a range of ways that the Progressive Achievement approach can encourage students to take an active role in their learning growth. Here are a few key insights from this valuable discussion.

Progressive Achievement approach

Much of ACER’s work is underpinned by the Progressive Achievement approach, which aims to help all students show progress in their learning through using evidence to identify students’ needs, support the next steps in their learning and to track learning growth over time.

‘We want to establish where students are in their learning, we want to look at those strengths, weaknesses and gaps,’ Mr Kralj observed, ‘and to identify the learning destination – what are we planning for?’

To take an active role in their own learning growth, students can be involved in each of step of the approach, identifying areas where they can improve, setting their own goals and seeing their own progress over time.  

Students as active participants

In the webinar discussion, Mr Kralj offered a range of tools and strategies to support students to take part in their own learning progress.

‘It is important to start thinking about students becoming not just the listener but the participant – participants who ask questions and who become part of the decision-making about their learning and about those next steps,’ Mr Kralj emphasised.

‘We can support our students by asking more questions – relevant questions based around the subject or domain area they’re learning in.’

By asking these kinds of questions, educators can also model good questioning for students. Reflection activities that encourage students to consider ‘What did I learn? How do I feel about my learning? What discoveries have I made?’ can also support students to understand where they are in their learning and how they are progressing.


A useful tool to encourage active participation in learning is a ‘bump it up wall’, as described in Dr Lynn Sharratt’s work Clarity. Students are encouraged to identify where they would like to improve, setting their own targeted goals.

‘The purpose around using this strategy in the classroom is to show and indicate to the students where they are, based upon a piece of work,’ Mr Kralj explained. ‘It's also acknowledging that improvement is possible. We have and expect to have high expectations of our students…when we look at setting goals or setting those next steps based upon where starting points are for students. What would it look like to develop those targets for improvement?

Strategies like ‘bump it up walls’ can encourage students to self-assess and to see that their work can always get better.

‘Having students work together is also a really strong way of students thinking about where they are in their learning. Support students to develop skills to assess their own and peers’ work, with rubrics and with exemplars,’ Mr Kralj added.

Find out more

To learn more, you can access a recording of the webinar. If you have any queries, please reach out to the School Engagement team at


Cornelius, K, (2015, October 29). ‘Formative assessment favourites’, Medium.

Leahy, S., Lyon, C , Thompson, M. & William, D. (2005).  ‘Classroom Assessment: Minute by Minute, Day by Day’, Education Leadership, 63 (3), 18-24. 

Sharratt, L. (2019). CLARITY: What Matters MOST in Learning, Teaching, and Leading. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Timperley, H. (2009, August 17). Using assessment data for improving teaching practice [Paper presentation]. 2009 - Assessment and Student Learning : Collecting, Interpreting and Using Data to Inform Teaching.

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