Student Agency in Learning (SAIL)

Student Agency in Learning (SAIL) is a one year professional learning experience that supports teachers and students to use formative assessment practices. Formative assessment involves teachers making adjustments to their instruction based on evidence they intentionally collect while student learning is developing, and providing students with feedback that helps them advance their learning. Students are equal stakeholders in the process and participate through self- assessment and providing peer feedback. When teachers implement formative assessment as a process, in collaboration with their students, it can have powerful effects on student learning.


SAIL course content integrates formative assessment, student identity, and classroom culture – to enrich and deepen instructional practice in support of student agency and equity. Leaders play an essential role in helping teachers learn and adopt formative assessment. While leading this work can look quite different from school to school, teachers benefit from active, ongoing leadership support.



Over the past ten years of developing professional learning experiences to support formative assessment implementation, we’ve learned from teachers, school leaders, and from students that adopting these practices is more than just a series of new instructional steps implemented in the classroom. It requires that teachers (and ultimately, students) adopt new mindsets – in particular, about classroom culture and student identity – so that all students can develop the skills and dispositions to best support their own learning.


SAIL was developed as part of the Assessment for Learning Project, a national movement to re-think assessment. It is informed by national research and a body of practice. WestEd has led the SAIL project, in collaboration with the Arizona State Department of Education, and pilot sites in Sunnyside Unified School District, Chandler Unified School District, and Coconino County.

Empowering Teachers and Students

Formative Assessment

Learn more about the connection between Formative Assessment and Student Agency.

Ways to Learn

Discover the range of content and learning experiences SAIL offers.

Teacher & Student Voices

Read what teachers and students are saying about this learning experience.

Getting Ready

Determine steps to take if you are interested in SAIL.


Interested in bringing SAIL to your district?

To find out more about bringing this transformative professional learning and other related services to your district, contact us below.

You may also email Nancy Gerzon at [email protected]
or Bob Montgomery at [email protected].