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High schools turning to student portfolios to assess academic progress

High schools turning to student portfolios to assess academic progress


Classroom at San Francisco Worldwide High Faculty the place one water fountain was discovered to have very excessive lead ranges

As California schools more and more give attention to getting ready college students for school and careers, a rising variety of educators are turning to end-of-year “portfolios” as indicators of whether or not college students have acquired the talents they’ll want to succeed after commencement.

The portfolios, which may include a compilation of a student’s work or an in-depth analysis undertaking, will help put together college students for school, the place they are going to be anticipated to work on longer tasks and persevere regardless of obstacles, a top quality that’s typically referred to within the subject as “grit.”

A world aside from multiple-choice checks, and even the extra in-depth Smarter Balanced checks that tens of millions of scholars take every spring, the portfolios are the top product of months of intense collaboration, analysis, essential considering and a number of revisions that college students sometimes current of their senior yr. College students have to defend their portfolios earlier than a panel of academics, fellow college students and even outdoors members of their group. In some excessive schools, a portfolio is a commencement requirement.

“We ask our students to show us your best work, explain your best work and demonstrate your knowledge in the way the real world works and the way college works,” stated Carmelita Reyes, principal of Oakland Worldwide High Faculty, which requires portfolios of all college students. “Do these problem-solving tasks, write essays, do multiple drafts, fix it, refine it and then present your learning and defend it.”

Portfolios are what educators refer to as “performance-based assessments,” as opposed to standardized assessments that principally check a student’s information by asking them to reply particular questions, and which frequently have only a proper or improper reply. Portfolios sometimes include a set of a student’s work from core courses like historical past, science and English. A portfolio may also be an unbiased analysis paper on a socially related matter chosen by the student or instructor. Some schools require each a set of labor and a analysis paper. As well as, some schools require a mirrored image paper during which college students talk about their academic progress.

One of the complete makes use of of portfolios could be discovered at Oakland Worldwide High Faculty. Whereas most schools utilizing portfolios require them for seniors, Oakland Worldwide for the previous a number of years has been utilizing the portfolio as a last evaluation in Ninth to 12th grade. All college students are required to full a portfolio and provides a presentation in entrance of a panel of academics and classmates on the finish of every faculty yr, Reyes stated.

All college students meet frequently with a school adviser for steerage on their portfolios. Reyes stated the extent of problem will increase annually. For instance, Ninth-graders are required to current for a shorter time and usually produce reflection papers about what they discovered in a selected class, whereas senior portfolios contain research-based work.

The portfolio strategy is particularly suited to the backgrounds of scholars on the faculty. Each student at Oakland Worldwide is an English learner who immigrated to the USA in the course of the previous 4 years. College students come from greater than 30 nations and converse 32 totally different languages. Due to their lack of English proficiency and ranging ranges and high quality of schooling in different nations, they sometimes do poorly on standardized exams in English.

Reyes stated testing continues to be an necessary benchmark measure, however portfolios are a extra genuine means to reveal what her college students perceive and the way a lot they’ve discovered. Portfolios additionally problem college students, she stated.

“It’s really easy for a kid to go through the motions of taking a test and filling out the bubble sheets. Failing a test is pretty private and nobody knows but you and the teacher that you didn’t try or you’re not on task,” Reyes stated. “When you have to stand in front of your peers, that’s a whole new level of accountability and kids really rise to the occasion in ways that don’t get captured in traditional testing.”

Throughout California, 34 excessive schools together with Oakland Worldwide have shaped a community to promote performance-based assessments. Referred to as the California Efficiency Evaluation Collaborative, it brings the schools and 12 districts collectively. It was shaped a yr in the past as a “professional learning community” that meets often to talk about methods to assist college students, share experience and examine grading rubrics and greatest practices, stated Roneeta Guha, a senior researcher with the Studying Coverage Institute.  

Guha stated whereas efficiency assessments usually are not new to excessive schools, the aim of the collaborative is to give schools throughout the state a structured means to talk about methods, educating practices and implementation.

“Statewide, a lot of the schools have been in the shadows doing portfolios and having an opportunity to come out and say, ‘This is the work we are doing, these are the assessments we believe in and let’s learn from each other and create some community of practice,’ that’s been really nice,” stated Julia Kessler, principal of San Francisco Worldwide High Faculty, which is a member of the collaborative.

Senior, Yoselin Boyuin, walks to the entrance of the classroom at San Francisco Worldwide High Faculty for her portfolio protection on the subject "stereotype threat."


Senior Yoselin Boyuin walks to the entrance of the classroom at San Francisco Worldwide High Faculty for her portfolio protection on the subject “stereotype threat.”

Members of the collaborative vary from constitution faculty networks like Envision Schools, a gaggle of three small constitution excessive schools within the Bay Space with about 400 college students per faculty, to bigger city schools like Oakland Technical High Faculty with about 2,000 college students. District measurement varies as properly, from Pasadena Unified with 4 excessive schools to Los Angeles Unified with 97 excessive schools.

Guha stated the collaborative plans to monitor every faculty by way of website visits and compile analysis findings that would encourage extra native districts to undertake insurance policies that help efficiency assessments.

Some members of the collaborative, corresponding to Pasadena Unified, have taken a complete strategy to efficiency assessments. The district has made portfolios and defenses obligatory for all seniors beginning within the 2019-20 faculty yr. The portfolio and protection is a district commencement requirement and have to be accomplished alongside commonplace course credit score necessities and 40 hours of job shadowing, internships or group service.

For the previous 5 years, portfolios and defenses weren’t required. Solely seniors who needed to earn a benefit medallion for commencement and have been additionally part of the district’s school and profession academies, which align coursework with profession preparation, had the choice. Marisa Sarian, assistant superintendent of secondary schooling for the district, stated that meant solely 40 % of seniors had the chance to do a research-based portfolio on the finish of their senior yr. As an alternative of proscribing portfolios to extra superior courses, the districtwide requirement ensures that each senior produces a portfolio and learns essential research-based expertise wanted for school, she stated.

Districts like Los Angeles Unified and Oakland Unified haven’t made portfolios obligatory, however schools have begun to implement them. Ten out of 14 excessive schools in Oakland, for instance, are introducing portfolios and account for the most important group of schools among the many collaborative’s membership.

Los Angeles Unified accounts for a smaller subset, with solely two excessive schools within the collaborative. In 2015-16, 14 schools required portfolios and last defenses, stated Esther Solimon, administrator for the district’s Linked Studying packages, which combine highschool teachers with work expertise. Solimon stated that quantity is probably going to develop to 20 schools as extra excessive schools implement the assessments. ­­

At San Francisco Worldwide High Faculty, portfolio defenses are held in December and Might. Principal Julia Kessler suspends courses for 2 weeks on the finish of every semester so college students and their advisers can dedicate that point to creating portfolios. Kessler stated although portfolios and defenses aren’t obligatory by district coverage, faculty tips assist to convey their significance. Each portfolio and protection counts for 10 % of a student’s ultimate grade in each class, she stated.

“If you’re a senior and you bomb your portfolio, you’re probably not going to pass your classes. So we give it as much weight as we can,” Kessler stated. On the similar time, it’s a manageable depth as a result of revisions are constructed into the method and academics lend help by discussing college students’ work with them, she stated. The method additionally rewards enchancment. “If you are struggling and you’re on the cusp, it’s an opportunity to really bring your grades up,” Kessler stated about portfolios.

College students are inspired to present mutual help. “When you put them in the situation of having to support each other and hold each other up, they have a collaborative spirit,” Kessler stated. The depth of student information improves and so does the spirit of ‘We’re on this collectively,’” she stated.

SF International High School Teachers Heather Heistand and Kyle Hallie- Erby discuss scoring and record points on rubrics after a student's portfolio defense.


San Francisco Worldwide High Faculty academics Heather Heistand and Kyle Halle-Erby talk about particular person student scores and report grades after the primary spherical of senior defenses. All seniors are required to put together a analysis paper as a part of their portfolio and defend that work in entrance of college and college students.

On the ultimate Friday of the autumn semester, seniors Yoselin Aplicano, Brenda Cortez and Yoselin Boyuin stood in entrance of about 30 of their classmates. The trio beforehand turned in particular person analysis papers on the subject of “stereotype threat,” an idea developed by Claude Steele, now on the College of California Berkeley, on the social impression of conforming to misconceptions about one’s race, gender or sexual orientation. That morning, the three college students gathered to current their work and area questions from college students and two school members. The academics sat at a desk behind the room, with shiny yellow paper rubrics and pens in hand, prepared to grade.

Aplicano stepped from behind the rostrum at first of the 30-minute presentation. She appeared calm and spoke confidently, not often wanting down on the notes on her pc. After the presentation, Aplicano, whose first language is Spanish, stated her largest concern for her “defense day” was turning into so nervous she would overlook English.

However the weeks of preparation main up to the presentation stored her nerves at bay. Aplicano stated she learn a lot materials she was keen to share all of it. “At first we were stressed because we had to read like 60 pages on stereotype threat in one week,” Aplicano stated. “But we just finished it, and it feels really good to know more about it, and it’s good to have knowledge about it (stereotype threat) so when it’s happening you can help to prevent it,” she stated.

Simply outdoors the classroom, in the course of the 10-minute allotted break throughout shows, Jason Enriquez sat subsequent to an extended row of grey lockers in a student lounge together with his teammates. The group of 4 simply completed the primary presentation of the day, as regards to human trafficking.

Workforce member Yaquelin Sanchez stated she was so nervous her knees have been shaking. Enriquez stated he was nervous as nicely and wished that they had practiced extra. The last-minute rush to pull a presentation collectively wasn’t the perfect concept, he stated. “I mean we can do better because I feel like we weren’t as confident,” Enriquez stated. He stated his group spent plenty of time writing for his or her particular person portfolios, however much less on getting ready for the presentation.

Enriquez recalled the modifying notes from academics written on the primary draft of the paper: “Revise your grammar again,” “Add more quotes” and “Explain what this means.”

Seniors Yaquelin Sanchez, Elise Verrier, Hector Cruz and Jason Enriquez after defending their senior portfolios on human trafficking at San Francisco International High School.


Seniors at San Francisco Worldwide High Faculty (left to proper) Yaquelin Sanchez, Elise Verrier, Hector Cruz and Jason Enriquez chill out within the student lounge after defending their senior portfolios on human trafficking. College students current in teams of three or 4 however are graded individually for his or her work.

In the long run, all the course of was value it, he stated, smiling. With out the chance to revise his analysis paper, Enriquez stated he wouldn’t have been in a position to reply the questions in the course of the presentation. This spring, he’ll choose a brand new analysis matter and put together for a second spherical of shows and defenses earlier than he graduates.

Jeff Gilbert, lead co-principal at San Mateo Unified’s Hillsdale High Faculty, the one faculty within the collaborative from his district, stated the complexity of performance-based assessments is the first purpose plenty of schools, notably giant ones, gained’t implement it.

Each instructor at Hillsdale, with its 1,400 college students, is assigned 4 college students who’re engaged on portfolios and defenses. These have taken place originally of March for the previous three years.

“There is the ‘Why do we have to do this and other schools don’t?’ question,” Gilbert stated, describing some student objections. “But then, there is this moment where they complete it and they are hugging and laughing and it’s the way students feel when they are a part of a drama production or won a game with a team they’re on. They should have that feeling in an academic setting, that ‘Oh, this is what it’s like to master something,’” Gilbert stated.


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