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CCE staff and partner reflections on our collaborative work to create schools where learning is engaging and rewarding, and every student is set up for success.

Assessing Yourself in New Ways

*Read the introduction to this series: Student Portfolios: Quality Performance Assessment in Action

The use of portfolios encourages students to analyze themselves over their last two years. The process of a portfolio presentation at The Green School goes as follows: the student creates a website that contains actual artifacts, work that is created by the students in their classes, and personal reflections to demonstrate how they see their growth over the last two years. With this website in the background, the student presents his/her ideas and conclusions about their growth to a panel of three assessors. As an assessor, my main duties were to fill out a rubric and give constructive feedback to the student. During the review, the panel is specifically looking for evidence of the student’s academic, emotional, and social growth.

Over the course of 6 hours, I had the pleasure of assessing eight student portfolio presentations. Notably, each student displayed a different level of self-reflection and understanding of their growth in the three areas. For example, some students delved deeply into how their behavior and ways of thinking have changed as they’ve begun to consider the effects of their current actions and routines on their futures. Other students focused primarily on their school assignments and the accumulation of academic skills that had taken place over the last two years.

This experience made me wonder, why did some students struggle so much with reflecting on all three areas of their lives? I believe the answer stems mainly from the traditional ways that students are assessed in school. Most schools refer to grades as the standard by which to measure success in school. It was clear that this way of assessing had been applied during most of the students schooling and had stuck with them. This made it hard for them to assess their emotional and social growth because there were no grades or numerical associations to assess.

Through the creation of their portfolio presentations, students at The Greene School are learning ways of assessing themselves differently and will graduate with the tools necessary to reflect and understand their holistic selves. Unfortunately, most students do not receive these additional tools and, as a result, are set back in their development. This setback is just another example of the inequity prevalent in our education system. Incorporating performance assessments as a means of measuring what students know and can do, rather than just high-stakes standardized assessment, works towards providing richer opportunities for students to flourish.