Using Portfolios for Authentic Assessment
Mary Ellen Sullivan
you’re ready to try the portfolio assessment option, now is the time to get
your plans together. Here are some tips and references from the education
literature I’ve gathered. First, a definition: “Portfolios are purposeful,
collaborative, self-reflective collections of student work generated during
the process of instruction.”
Goes Into a Portfolio?
portfolio tends to include:
a range of
work over time;
by the teacher and work selected by the student (the teacher specifying the
type and number of pieces to include, the student choosing the pieces);
introduction in which the student explains why individual pieces were chosen;
statement describing what was learned from selecting and reflecting as the
portfolio was compiled.
the portfolio assembled by a professional seeking a job, the student portfolio
is a file or folder containing materials reflecting the student’s experience
contents fall into three categories:
work (pieces of writing, designs & blueprints, audio, video and
photographic recordings of performances and projects)
(letters of reference or other testimony on student work or personal
characteristics such as creativity, initiative, dedication).
indicators (grades in school or correspondence courses, test scores,
employment records, participation in clubs, volunteer work, awards).
are some more things to keep in mind:
a Plan! --
Portfolios are the most individualized method of evaluation you’ll find, and
they require an individualized program to evaluate. Look at what your children
have already learned, how they learned best, what their interests are, and
what goals you all have. Write down these goals and interests, have the
children write theirs down (or dictate them to you), and figure out a plan of
action. As you accomplish a goal, save the evidence (in writing, photos,
tapes, artwork, etc.). Add or revise goals as you go along. The portfolio will
build itself around your plan.
-- What do you
like? What is your family’s situation? What time, money, and location
limitations do you have? Make your program fit your life. A report on a study
set in a rural mountain community in New York stated: “Curriculum must be
responsive to students’ needs and interests and relevant to their
It’s your life!
Good Records --
Experts recommend keeping a logbook as a means of increasing the accuracy of
In addition to the original plan, logbooks could include ongoing notes
about student performance, formal ratings of achievement, and goals for the
student. These notes make assessment by the certified teacher much easier,
especially if you communicate regularly with the teacher or other evaluator
who will be writing the summary of your portfolio. If this evaluator sees the
logbooks as you go along, assessment of progress based on portfolios can be
complete and accurate.
Assessment, St. Edward’s University, Austin, TX. http://www.stedwards.edu/cte/evaluation/assessment.htm
Dr. Helen Barrett's favorite links on Alternative Assessment & Electronic Portfolios
Using Portfolios for Authentic Assessments by Jane Smith http://tiger.coe.missouri.edu/~vlib/Jane's.stuff/Jane's.Page.html
Lankes, Anna Maria D., Electronic Portfolios: A New Idea in Assessment, ERIC Digest.1995-12-00 ED390377 http://www.ericfacility.net/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed390377.html
 DeFina, Allan A., Portfolio Assessment: Getting Started. New York: Scholastic Professional Books, 1992.
Archbald, Doug A.,
"Authentic Assessment: What It Means and How It Can Help Schools,"
National Center for Effective Schools Research and Development, Madison,
Wisconsin, December, 1991.
Brandau, D. & Collins J., “Schooling,
literature and work in a rural mountain community.” Technical
Report Series 7.1, National Research Center on Literature Teaching and
Learning, Albany, NY. 1992
Calfee, R. C., & Perfumo, P. A. “Student Portfolios and Teacher Logs:
Blueprint for a Revolution in Assessment,” National Center for the Study
of Writing, April, 1993. http://www.writingproject.org/downloads/csw/TR65.pdf.