The Portfolio Process
Portfolio Assessment
Portfolio Contents
Collecting Student Work
Selecting Pieces to Include
Reflecting on Portfolio Pieces
Evaluating the Portfolio
Conferences and Showcasing


Portfolio Assessment

What is Portfolio Assessment?

Portfolio assessment is a performance based, realistic, and instructionally appropriate method of documenting and exhibiting student progress, achievement, and development in one or more areas, over time.

  • Students create a purposeful collection of work across a range of content areas throughout the school years.
  • Students select portfolio components that demonstrate growth or exemplify excellence.
  • Students participate in setting criteria for selection, assessing their own work, and in setting learning goals with their teachers and parents.
  • Students, parents, and teachers periodically review portfolios to share information about student performance.

Different kinds of portfolios are created for variety of reasons.

  • Collection portfolio: A folder that holds an accumulation of student work.
  • Showcase portfolio: A container for a selection of work representing a student's progress and achievements. It may represent the work done in one curriculum area or in many. It can be shown at conference time, open house, or at a portfolio exhibition.
  • Evaluation portfolio: A collection of documentation including copies of the work in the student's showcase portfolio, tests and test scores, anecdotal records of observations and conferences, and other assessment documentation.

Why use Portfolio Assessment?

Portfolio Assessment:

  • is authentic
  • evaluates the individual rather than the group
  • maintains an organized, ongoing, descriptive picture of a student's learning
  • fosters metacognitive skills (How do I know what I know?)
  • demonstrates the acquisition of skills as well as the application and construction of knowledge
  • encourages decision making
  • prepares students for the world outside the classroom (Many professionals, stockbrokers, artists, advertisers, publishers, etc. use portfolios to showcase their performance in their job.)


What does the portfolio process look like?

Portfolio assessment is an ongoing process. It occurs everyday in the classroom as students continually reflect on their work. The following list is a brief overview of the portfolio process.

The portfolio process:

  • Teachers and students collaboratively set criteria for quality work.
  • Teachers and/or students evaluate student work. Corrected work is placed in an OUT-Bin to be filed in the collection portfolio.
  • Student work is collected in a container. We use hanging file folders in a crate.
  • Once a week students sort their portfolios. They select portfolio pieces and write a reflection about one or more pieces. Other work is taken home.
  • Digital and video cameras capture images of products, oral presentations, and performances. These images are stored on the computer.
  • Each quarter the portfolio samples are moved to a manila folder. Students scan work, continue to reflect, and link these pieces in their portfolio.
  • At the end of first quarter, students, parents, and teachers collaboratively set learning goals for the year.
  • Each quarter's portfolio samples are digitized, reflected upon, and included in the portfolio.
  • At the end of the year, students showcase their portfolios for parents and teachers.


Portfolio Contents

What samples are included in a Portfolio?

The contents of a portfolio will vary depending on the purpose for the portfolio.

Portfolio contents may include:

  • Spelling activity or tests
  • Penmanship samples
  • Math tests, journal activities, math boxes, study links, home links
  • Reading responses, list of books read, oral reading samples, reading logs
  • Writing samples
  • Journal entries
  • Social Studies tests, reports, products, oral presentations
  • Science tests, experiments, lab activities, journal responses
  • Technology products
  • Art products
  • Musical selections
  • Social Skills activities
  • P.A.T. (Preferred Activity Time) product
  • Video taped selections
  • Student inventories, checklists
  • Student reflections and self-assessments
  • Rubrics
  • Personal selections


Collecting Student Work

What do portfolios look like and where are they stored?

Each portfolio is as unique as the student who creates it. (Scholastic Inc., 1995)

The purpose, amount of student samples, space, and available funds determines what your portfolio looks like and where they are stored. Classroom storage spaces for portfolios will vary. Portfolios need to be easily accessible for student and teachers.


Suggestions for Portfolio Containers:

  • manila folder
  • three-ring binder
  • hanging folder in a plastic crate
  • accordion folder
  • pizza box
  • video tape
  • computer file
  • CD-ROM

Suggestions for Portfolio Storage:

  • filing cabinet
  • crate with hanging file folders
  • bankers boxes
  • plastic stackable bins
  • magazine holders
  • computer

We use a combination of containers to organize and store our portfolios. Student work is collected and stored in hanging folders in a plastic crate. Digitally captured work (scanned images of their work, digital pictures of products, and video segments of presentations, etc.) are stored on the school's server computer. Each student has his/her own password protected folder on the server.


Selecting Pieces To Include

Once a week students sort through their collection portfolio to select pieces for their showcase portfolio. They separate their collected work into subject areas. They choose one or more pieces from each subject area to keep in their collection portfolio. Other work is taken home. At the end of each quarter, the portfolio is sorted for the last time and the pieces that have been selected are set aside to be scanned. After the work is scanned, reflections are written using word processing software, and products and presentations are captured in digital formats and stored as computer files on our school server. Students then access these files to create individual web pages which showcase their work.

Students are given the following list to help in the selection process:


  • It is in my neatest handwriting.
  • I studied hard.
  • I prepared for it well.
  • This is something that is hard for me.
  • This is something that I really liked doing.
  • It was interesting. (Tell why.)
  • I learned a lot from it.
  • I got a good grade.
  • I put a lot of effort into it.
  • It's something I've improved in (on).
  • It took me a long time to do.
  • I used the computer to help me with it.
  • I planned it out carefully.
  • It challenged me.
  • It was something I wasn't sure I would be able to do.
  • I had fun while I was learning this.


Reflecting on Portfolio Pieces

Reflecting is the most important part of the portfolio process, for without it, the portfolio becomes simply a collection of student work without purpose. By reflecting on their work, students engage in metacognitive thinking and begin to develop a working knowledge of who they are as learners.

Questions for students to ask themselves:

  • Why was this piece selected as a portfolio piece?
  • What did I do?
  • What did I learn?
  • What are my feelings about my learning?
  • What will I do differently next time in order to improve?
To dowload the files below, right click (WINDOWS) or hold the mouse (Macintosh) and choose Save This Link As.... For Macintosh, make sure the file type is set to Source. Then open the documents from inside ClarisWorks.

Download our portfolio reflection guide for intermediate grades 4-6. Format: ClarisWorks 4.0

Download our portfolio reflection guide for primary grades K-3. Format: ClarisWorks 4.0


Evaluating the Portfolio

Individual pieces of work in a portfolio have already been assessed. You may decide not to evaluate the entire portfolio and may prefer to just use it as an organizational method of showcasing and storing student work. However, if students are creating, editing, and/or maintaining their portfolios, you will want to assess their final product.

Student's electronic portfolios are evaluated according to a rubric. Students help to decide the criteria. A copy of the rubric should be given to the students at the beginning of the year so that they are aware of the criteria before they begin. (Worcester, "no date",

Click here to see our rubric. The rubric will show in a new window. Simply close the window to return here.

Click here to visit Kathy Schrock's list of rubrics for more ideas.


Conferences and Showcasing the Portfolio

At the beginning of the year we hold parent-student-teacher conferences. Students with their parents and teachers set learning goals. Students fill out a Goal Sheet, which is later scanned and imported into their webfolios. Goals are revisited periodically throughout the year and at the end of the year, students demonstrate via their webfolios that they have met their goals.

Parents, other family members, and friends attend a portfolio exhibition at the end of the year. Students showcase their webfolios. Parents evaluate the presentation, and often leave feedback for their child in the form of a reflection that they type into the webfolio.

To dowload the file below, right click (WINDOWS) or hold the mouse (Macintosh) and choose Save This Link As.... For Macintosh, make sure the file type is set to Source. Then open the documents from inside ClarisWorks.

Download our Goal Setting Worksheet. Format: ClarisWorks 4.0


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