Portfolio Assessment

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We will start our discussion with some questions which will help us recall whatever we already know about assessment. In case you do not remember, please find some time and make some quick references to find out answers.

  1. What is the meaning of assessment? Is assessment different from evaluation?
  2. As a teacher of a subject, would you like to assess the progress of your students or evaluate it?
  3. What are the tools of assessment/evaluation(as you think it to be)?
  4. What is it that we want to establish after giving a test or an examination?
  5. Is it necessary to prepare students for examinations? Why or why not?
  6. Imagine you are the parent of a 5th standard child. What information would you like to get from the school about your child?
  7. When you receive the progress report card of your child you find that it has a list marks obtained in different subjects and a remark 'good'. What does that convey to you? Does the word 'good' really communicate anything to you?

You can take a break now. Think of the above questions. You need to reflect over each one of them keeping in mind current practices. Once you are clear about what you think of the above issues, please revisit this article to find out what others have said about them. Probably you may have something to receive from them. Probably you will know how your thinking is different from that of your colleagues. You can make your answers available to others through this site for them to read and comment upon. You can also comment on the responses printed here.

Write your views here:

The practices of portfolio assessment should be understood in the context that the above discussion has created. Perhaps there is no single method of assessment which is complete. In this connection I would like you to read the introduction of the source book on evaluation available in the website of NCERT. Please download and open the first chapter in the source book and read the 13 page write up there.

What is portfolio assessment?

A portfolio is a collection of students’ work over a period of time. It could be day-to-day work or selection of the learner’s best piece of work. Think of a file which contains whatever a child has written for one year. It would give a chronological picture of how a child has undergone the learning process. Learning is not a mystery. It is the sum total of the efforts put by the child and facilitated by the teacher. The file we are thinking of documents all such efforts. Briefly, a portfolio can include the following.

ü the work done by the child ü the feedback given by the teacher ü the observations made the by child on his/her own learning ü a record of activities undertaken by the child at home or out of classroom contexts ü observations of parents or other teachers

There is no rule as such as to what should or should not be included in a portfolio. The aim is to provide a comprehensive profile of the child as a learner. But depending on the requirements, sometimes we can prepare a separate portfolio for evaluation purposes. The bulky file that is created in a year's time can not be handled easily. Nor is it possible to send it to the parents. Such a bundle of information may not make much sense either. So a separate file which is an extract of a year's work can be prepared. This might include the best works of the child over a period of time, the observations of the teacher and the reflections of the child.

In portfolio assessments summing up student learning in marks obtained through a term end test is not held very important. Evaluation is to help the learner reflect and improve his/her efforts. Evaluation should help the teacher develop better insights into the students' different styles of learning. Portfolios of children are in a way all inclusive records of the learning processes the students engage themselves in.

*Questions for reflection*

  1. In what way is portfolio assessment different from traditional assessment schemes?
  2. Do you think portfolio assessment can be an alternative to the term end test driven assessment practices?
  3. When is a test/examination relevant and when are portfolios relevant?
  4. What would be the problems in implementing portfolio assessment in our system? How can we overcome them?