|From the ERIC database
Portfolios: Assessment in Language Arts. ERIC Digest.
Portfolios are used in various professions to gather typical or exemplary samples of performance. Stockbrokers talk about a client's portfolio; art students assemble a portfolio for an art class or a job interview; people in advertising, publishing, or sales carry portfolios to business meetings. The general purpose is to collect and display an array of materials that has been gathered or produced (Farr, 1990; Olson, 1991).
The portfolios, if defined as collections of work stored in folders over a period of time, will have little value either to students or teachers. To be of use, careful consideration needs to be given to what goes into a portfolio, the process of selection, and how the information is to be used (Krest, 1990; Valencia, 1990). If this is not done, then the portfolio may become little more than a resource file.
PORTFOLIOS SERVE MULTIPLE PURPOSES
To serve the function of assessment, the language arts portfolio should be a record of a student's literacy development--a kind of window on the skills and strategies the student uses in reading and writing. A student's portfolio should be the basis for the teacher's constructive feedback. When portfolios are developed over an extended time period as an integral part of classroom instruction, they become valuable assets for planning both within the classroom and on a school-wide basis. When information is gathered consistently, the teacher is able to construct an organized, ongoing, and descriptive picture of the learning that is taking place. The portfolio draws on the everyday experiences of the students and reflects the reading and writing that a student has done in a variety of literacy contexts (Valencia, et al, 1990).
The best guides for selecting work to include in a language arts portfolio are these: What does this literacy activity tell me about this student as a reader and a writer? Will this information add to what is already known? How does this information demonstrate change?
Portfolio collections can form the foundation for teacher-student conferences, a vital component of portfolio assessment. A conference is an interaction between the teacher and the student, and it is through conferences that the students gain insights into how they operate as readers and writers. Conferences support learners in taking risks with, and responsibility for, their learning. Through conferencing, students are encouraged to share what they know and understand about the processes of reading and writing. It is also a time for them to reflect on their participation in literacy tasks. Portfolio assessment is an appropriate means of recognizing the connection between reading and writing.
PORTFOLIOS ADDRESS LANGUAGE ARTS GOALS
In the last few years, both the goals and instructional approaches to language arts have changed. New curriculum designs advocate instructional approaches that place an emphasis on:
*an integration of all aspects of language arts including reading, writing, listening, and speaking;
*a focus on the processes of constructing meaning;
*the use of literature that inspires and motivates readers;
*an emphasis on problem solving and higher-order thinking skills; and
*the use of collaboration and group work as an essential component of learning.
For example, integrated language arts instruction is now the accepted model in many schools in the country (Cal. Dept. of Education, 1987). Integrated language arts instruction for most of these schools means that there are no longer separate reading and language arts instructional periods--and often that language skills are also taught when students are learning science and social studies.
Integration also means that reading and writing are not broken into separate objectives to be taught, practiced, and mastered one at a time. Rather, it means that skills are taught as they are needed as part of a total behavior. Discussion preceding the reading of a selection helps to bring a reader's knowledge to bear on what he/she is about to read. At the same time the verbal exchange of ideas fosters speaking and listening skills. Despite the discussions of the importance of integrating all aspects of language arts instruction, it is the teaching of reading and writing that has produced the most obvious integration. Thus, a portfolio containing integrated reading and writing work samples provides a valuable assessment tool.
PORTFOLIOS AS AUTHENTIC ASSESSMENTS
HAVE VALUE TO BOTH TEACHERS AND STUDENTS BEYOND THE
REQUIRE STUDENTS TO CONSTRUCT RESPONSES RATHER THAN MERELY
REQUIRE STUDENTS TO APPLY THEIR KNOWLEDGE.
POSE PROBLEMS FOR STUDENTS FOR WHICH THEY HAVE TO USE
PRESENT STUDENTS WITH TASKS THAT HAVE A REALISTIC FOCUS.
Taken together, the general attributes of performance assessment and the specific goals of portfolios represent an integrated approach for language arts assessment. Since the contents of the portfolio are generated by the student, may be typical or exemplary examples, and require continuous evaluation of reading and writing, students are actively engaged in their own growth and development as language users.
Farr, Roger (1990). "Setting directions for language arts portfolios." Educational Leadership, 48 (3), 103.
Johns, Jerry L. (1990). Literacy Portfolios. 11 pp. ED 319 020
Krest, Margie (1990). "Adapting the portfolio to meet student needs." English Journal, 79 (2), 29-34. EJ 406 654
Olson, Mary W. (1991). "Portfolios: Education Tools." Reading Psychology, 12 (1), 73-80. EJ number forthcoming
Stiggins, Richard (1987). "Design and development of performance assessments." Education Measurement: Issues and Practice, 6 (3), 33-42. EJ 393 067
Valencia, Sheila (1990). "A portfolio approach to classroom assessment: The whys, whats, and hows." The Reading Teacher, 43 (4), 338-40. EJ 403 672
Valencia, Sheila, et al. (1990). "Assessing reading and writing." In Gerald G. Duffy (Ed.), Reading in the Middle School (2nd ed.). Newark, DE: International Reading Association, 124-53. ED 320 132
Wiggins, Grant (1989). "A true test: Toward more authentic and equitable assessment." Phi Delta Kappan, 70 (9), 703-13. EJ 388 723
This publication was prepared with funding from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U. S. Department of Education, under OERI contract no. RI88062001. Contractors undertaking such projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their judgment in professional and technical matters. Points of view or opinions, however, do not necessarily represent the official view or opinions of the Office of Educational Research and Improvement
Title: Portfolios: Assessment in Language Arts. ERIC Digest.
Descriptors: Elementary Secondary Education; Evaluation Criteria; Evaluation Methods; Integrated Curriculum; * Language Arts; * Portfolios [Background Materials]; * Student Evaluation; Teacher Student Relationship
Identifiers: ERIC Digests
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