10 Leadership Lessons

Education World: Student Portfolios as an Assessment Tool

Date of publication: 2017-08-23 12:06

It also is important -- especially if you plan to use the portfolio as a major grade for your course -- that you get another teacher to help with the evaluations. That ensures that your assessment is reliable. Teachers often cut some slack for less academically inclined students, while holding others to higher standards. That is especially prevalent in subjective assessments. By asking a teacher who is unfamiliar with your students to read over the work and assess it using your rating scale, you are making a more authentic evaluation. The two scores then can be averaged to get a final grade. That will show you and the student a more accurate assessment of their work products.

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When starting the portfolio process, remember to keep it simple. Start with a single unit. Determine your goals and purpose for the portfolio. Create a checklist. Explain the process to students and encourage them to take an active role in the development of their portfolios. What you might discover is a very valuable and meaningful evaluation tool that effectively assesses student learning.

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Next, determine how -- or if -- you will grade the portfolios. If your purpose is merely to collect work samples to pass along to another teacher or parent, there is no need to actually grade the portfolios. If, however, you are looking for an overall mastery of skills, you will want to grade the work collected. The most efficient way to grade a portfolio is through a rating scale. If you're looking for specific skills, you might begin with a checklist. That checklist will ensure that all necessary pieces are included. I use the following guidelines: Is the work completed correctly (mechanics), completely (information), and comprehensively (depth)? Each area is marked on a scale of 6-9. My scale is 6 = not at all 7 = somewhat 8 = mostly and 9 = entirely.

One reason might be that the portfolio is a very subjective form of assessment. For anyone uncomfortable without a grading key or answer sheet, subjective evaluation can be a scary task. Secondly, teachers often are unsure themselves of the purpose of a portfolio and its uses in the classroom. Third, there is a question of how the portfolio can be most effectively used to assess student learning.

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The portfolio is not the easiest type of assessment to implement, but it can be a very effective tool. Portfolios show the cumulative efforts and learning of a particular student over time. They offer valuable data about student improvement and skill mastery. Along with student reflection, that data provides valuable information about how each student learns and what is important to him or her in the learning process.

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