What Is A Portfolio?

All About Portfolios

A portfolio is a representative sample of a student’s work collected over during  a school year for the purpose of demonstrating educational progress in lieu of a standardized test.

Because a portfolio is not specifically mentioned as a form of evaluation, some superintendents may be reluctant to accept it. However, the law does not limit the methods of evaluation to only those listed. If a portfolio is used, it should be evaluated by a person licensed to teach in any state, or a person with a master’s degree or higher in an academic discipline who has knowledge of the child’s academic progress. It must state that the child is achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress.

What goes into a portfolio?
It is best to check with your portfolio evaluator at the beginning of the year to see what is expected. Some evaluators want only a sample paper from each subject dated at the beginning, middle, and end of the year. Others prefer “scrapbook portfolios” containing not only representative work samples but also drawings, a list of books read, photographs of projects and field trips, and anything else that provides a complete picture of the child’s education.

When should we begin compiling a portfolio?
Many experienced portfolio users suggest having one day per month to sort all the papers and projects turned in, and choose what will be included in the portfolio. This eliminates end-of-year panic and ensures that the best materials are still around to be chosen.

Other things to add to a portfolio:
Introduction or summary statement by the student explaining how and why individual pieces were included in the portfolio; excerpts from your plan book or school journal which offer a glimpse of some “average” school days; programs from music recital or dramatic productions in which the student has participated; copies of community service awards, contest entries, and anything else that the student is proud of.

For further reading:
Using Portfolios to Assess Student Performance
is $4.00 postpaid from Far West Laboratory, 730 Harrison Street, San Francisco, California 94107