Portfolio Assessment Works

Yes, the world has changed.  Almost everything is available online.  Most of my reading is done online - in part because I can adjust the font size.

So, while perusing the Internet late at night, I found this article on Medium.  “How the Obsession with Testing is Hurting Learners and Teachers.”  Look for it here - Obsession with Testing

The author Mike Crowley begins his piece with this quote -


“Standardized tests can’t measure initiative, creativity, imagination, conceptual thinking, curiosity, effort, irony, judgment, commitment, nuance, good will, ethical reflection, or a host of other valuable dispositions and attributes. What they can measure and count are isolated skills, specific facts and functions, the least interesting and least significant aspects of learning.” — Alfie Kohn

While Alfie Kohn has his own agenda, Crowley makes some very good points.


“Performance data is not inherently a bad thing: how it is used, the decisions that are made based on it, and its potential implications for turning learning into a sterile, empirical act might well be. A critical insight into dealing with performance data is expressed in Goodhart’s Law: “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” “


And that’s just the reason that over-testing becomes irrelevant.  It’s a question of oversampling to determine success, and that very act of oversampling undermines the success it seeks to measure.

Better to have students prepare examples of their work and display it in a portfolio of work.  The entire process with portfolios is different, better, and reflective of personal and community values. Most important, portfolio work is relevant.

Crowley says it well when he writes,

Student voice and choice, creativity and alternative credentials must have a role to play. If the measurement of school effectiveness is one of the purposes of gathering data, then it should not end when the student leaves school.

And right there is the case for portfolio assessment.

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