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7:3 Matching contents to goals

The goals that you have established for the portfolio will be the most important guide to planning portfolio contents. Your students' portfolios may have one goal or several. If the portfolio has one goal, the students will select and submit works to meet that goal. If the portfolio has three goals, the organization of the portfolio will be such that students will select and submit works to meet the three distinct goals. In either case, the works submitted should provide evidence of students' progress toward the goals and reflect both student production and process. To ensure that you are linking instruction and assessment, create multiple ways for students to show evidence of progress toward the learning goals by providing opportunities in class and through homework for students to plan, practice, and reflect on learning. Then, have students select from these pieces to create their portfolios. The specific works that students choose to include can vary; however, each piece should clearly show progress toward meeting a portfolio goal.

To increase the reliability of the portfolio as an assessment tool, the evidence should be multidimensional, that is, it should be drawn from various sources, such as teacher, parent, peer, and student. Reliability is also increased when students create products for the portfolio using a pre-established set of criteria; for example, when students present an oral speech using the criteria as guidelines for preparation. In a case such as this, the results of assessment are more accurate and fair.

You can think of types of evidence in two basic categories:

  • Artifacts: student products, self-assessments, and student goals
  • Attestations: peer, parent, or teacher contributions
Including both artifacts and attestations as evidence provides multiple perspectives on students' learning.

Artifacts Student works included in portfolios are often called artifacts. This name emphasizes their role as evidence of learning; however, terms such as work and creation are also used. Artifacts, which include student products, self-assessments, and student goals, should be chosen and organized to demonstrate progress toward portfolio goals. Student products document what the student has learned. Student self-assessments and goals demonstrate how the student is learning and how progress is being made.

Many of the artifacts can be both student products and self-assessments. For example, journal entries can be used as a product which demonstrates writing skills and/or a self-assessment tool in which students reflect on their writing. The purpose of the journal and the goals of the portfolio determine how the entries are included in the portfolio.

Possible artifacts compositions and drafts, journal entries, reading responses, letters to penpals, standardized tests and quizzes, skits and plays on video cassette, songs on audio cassette, speeches and presentations on audio/video cassette, goal-setting worksheets, self-assessment records, reading logs, pictures and drawings, souvenirs of class trips, photographs of large works, oral proficiency interview on audio/visual cassette, class worksheets, and learner reflections.

Attestations Attestations, like artifacts, are evidence of a student's progress. However, attestations are from sources other than the student. Attestations come from teachers, peers, parents, or other adults and include records from a parent-teacher conference, teacher observation notes, and peer-assessment forms. Including multiple perspectives on students' learning strengthens the reliability of the portfolio. For example, having the teacher, parent, and/or a peer, as well as the student assess his work strengthens the accuracy of the assessment, making it more valid to the student, parent, and teacher. Incorporating parents and other adults in the portfolio process also extends the learning arena to include students' homes and communities.

Possible attestations parent letters and reactions, teachers' classroom observation notes, peer-assessment forms, annotated videotapes of classroom interaction, notes from parent-teacher conferences.

Artifact and Attestation Media Artifacts and attestations can be produced using a variety of media ranging from paper and pencil to CD-ROM. The media that you and your students choose depends upon the purpose and goals of the portfolio--what types of evidence are possible give the portfolio goals; upon the resources available to your class--do you have access to a computer lab or an art room, do you have the expertise in these areas or access to staff with the expertise; and upon time available for these projects.

Possible Artifact and Attestation Media paper/cardboard, audio/video cassette, photographs, computer disk, CD-ROM, web pages

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