Portfolios in Student Focused Assessment Model (pt4)

This is the fourth of six articles on the assessment and reporting practice used at my school for the past 15 years This post explores Portfolio development and assessment.

While things have evolved over time, and recent changes to our provincial reporting requirements are challenging the way we do things, this is a snapshot of the ideal, our grand goals, and in most cases, the practice. 


What is the difference between the contents of a student binder and a portfolio?

If a binder is the daily work, notes, practice, thinking, and engagement with curricular content, a portfolio is selections of that work with reflections on learning processes, strategies, techniques. The binder shows cognitive engagement; the portfolio shows meta-cognitive reflection and understanding.

Students engage in daily work, activities, and projects reflecting along the way in a cycle of assessment as/of/for learning. In the reflection process they recognize in their own work evidence of growth. Portfolios are collections of evidence that serve to describe one's understanding of the course content, and equally as important, one's understanding of themselves as learners. We ask students to think about what worked for them in this project, what strategies did they employ that contributed to their success, what roadblocks did they encounter and how did they overcome them. Fundamentally, we want the students to think about the process of learning, not just the content itself. Through this, students come to appreciate their own unique abilities and strengths. They identify behaviours that contribute to positive learning outcomes, as well as the behaviours that inhibit growth. They come to understand themselves as learners.

Learning artifacts in the portfolio are generally selected both by the student and the teacher. Self assessments and learning reflections accompany each piece in the portfolio and contain statements that highlight for the portfolio viewer the importance of the piece. Teachers' responses to a student's self assessment, across the timeline of work in the portfolio, can be read as a dialogue exploring engagement, and metacognitive understanding.

The next post in the series explains how portfolios are used to help students write their own summative statements of growth for term-end reporting.

Other Posts in this Series

  1. Overview
  2. Goal Setting
  3. Engagement
  4. Portfolio
  5. Growth Statements
  6. Student Led Conferences
  7. Forms


  1. [...] school with their child and teacher to review work from the past term. Students first share their portfolio of work samples with self-assessments and reflections. We encourage parents to ask questions, and [...]

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