PA Home > Modules Main Page > Part 2: Introduction TOC >Portfolio assessment and the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning

2:1 - What is Portfolio Assessment?

Portfolio assessment is the systematic, longitudinal collection of student work created in response to specific, known instructional objectives and evaluated in relation to the same criteria. Assessment is done by measuring the individual works as well as the portfolio as a whole against specified criteria, which match the objectives toward a specific purpose. Portfolio creation is the responsibility of the learner, with teacher guidance and support, and often with the involvement of peers and parents. The audience assesses the portfolio.

Portfolios have generated a good deal of interest in recent years, with teachers taking the lead in exploring ways to use them. Teachers have integrated portfolios into instruction and assessment, gained administrative support, and answered their own as well as student, administrator, and parent questions about portfolio assessment. Concerns are often focused on reliability, validity, process, evaluation, and time. These concerns apply equally to other assessment instruments. There is no assessment instrument that meets every teacher's purpose perfectly, is entirely valid and reliable, takes no time to prepare, administer, or grade, and meets each student's learning style.

Foreign language educators need to able to choose and/or design assessments that meet their most important instructional and assessment needs and which they have the resources to implement and evaluate. Below are some strengths of portfolio assessment, seen in contrast to traditional forms of assessment. Traditional assessment vs Portfolio assessment

Measures student's ability at one timeMeasures student's ability over time
Done by teacher alone; student often unaware of criteriaDone by teacher and student; student aware of criteria
Conducted outside instructionEmbedded in instruction
Assigns student a gradeInvolves student in own assessment
Does not capture the range of student's language abilityCaptures many facets of language learning performance
Does not include the teacher's knowledge of student as a learnerAllows for expression of teacher's knowledge of student as learner
Does not give student responsibilityStudent learns how to take responsibility

Back to the Top
<< Back | Next >>