Summative Assessment: Portfolio Assessment

One of the most authentic assessments is to take a series of formative assessments used throughout the year and collect them in a portfolio.  Work is collected and reflected on in an intentional way and can show growth over time.

There are many ways to do portfolio assessment.  Some portfolios are more detailed, while some contain an handful of entries a year.  Portfolio assessment may just be needed for one or two children you have concerns about, or for every child.

Portfolios can be a “best of” to encourages pride in student work and metacognitive reflection on learning.  If administrators require more valid data, including assessments on scheduled dates (not just the “best work”) can show student growth more accurately.

Every child’s portfolio can look different and serve different purposes, but the key portfolios are to think about what children did in class, what they could have reasonability been expected to have done, and what interventions can help them do more.


Resources with Easy Introductions to Portfolio Assessment:

  • Performance and Portfolio Assessment for Language Minority Students  by Valdez Pierce & O’Malley, authors of the fantastic, highly-recommended book Alternative Assessment for English Language Learners.  Here is their superb, concise and free article with an overview of authentic assessment in general.  Look at how beautiful one of their checklists is: “ Initiates own reading”  “Shows pleasure in reading” “Selects books independently”  “Participates in language experience story development” …wow!
  • Celebrating what children comprehend: Using a rubric for written retellings of narrative text by Fine & Mosser.  For a first attempt at portfolios, this is extremely simple and doable.  Using one rubric and one easy, highly authentic activity, students retell stories orally or in writing (L1 or L2) over the couse of the year.  Stories can be recorded orally or written/illustrated text collected as further documentation.  Collect just one or two a month and you will have substantial, rich data to prove your kids are growing. Plus, students take great pride in this type of portfolio.  Here is an alternate story retell rubric I simplified but as always, modify any rubric to suit your needs.
  • Assessment Portfolios and English Language Learners by Gomez includes a question and answer guide for using portfolios in a beginner-friendly but detailed way.  This is a bit lengthy in parts, but at the end of the text, there are dozens of reproducible and example rubrics, checklists, and reflection logs for students to use.  Also in the index is a fantastic end of the year portfolio presentation plan.  In lieu of a final exam, students could do written reflections and then prepare and present (to administrators and teachers, never in front of a group of kids) to showing how hard-working my students are and celebrating their growth.
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Published by

Claire Walter

I am an ESL teacher and I promote differentiated, compassionate instruction and assessment for English Language Learners.

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