Authentic Assessment

The second graders at my school just completed presenting their portfolios to their parents tonight. This year, I wanted the children to focus on learning and effort. When asked to select works for their portfolio that highlighted these areas, I was just delighted when so many of them had such a hard time choosing. They wanted to include everything. By the time they were done, they had scrapbooks bursting with artwork, writing samples, math problems, and much more. While these are a good place to begin, upon reflection, I need to try and tweak these to make them more meaningful. A book I just read, Student Portfolios: A Learning Tool (Lightfoot and Davidson), along with one I read a few years ago, The Portfolio Organizer (Rolheiser, Bower, Stevahn) both suggest that it is the quality of the portfolio process that can reveal progress and achievement. Key parts of the process should include:

  • establishing the overall purpose
  • selecting the type of portfolio
  • considering the audience
  • designing the criteria and selection process
  • determining the time frame
  • generating and/or choosing self reflection activities

While we did include all of these things, I felt I rushed my kids a little in getting these put together and should really build the time throughout the year for them to self-select pieces of work and reflect on them. If done well, these pieces will also act as assessment pieces that can be used to taylor ones teaching as the year progresses. These pieces can then be used as assessment “FOR” rather than “OF” learning (Stiggins has a great book on assessment).

Portfolios should be part of teachers’ assessment literacy. Though it was evident that parents and students had a great time, I will need to remember to have these resources out in September rather than wait until May.


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