Question: How accurate is portfolio assessment in determining students' grades for their collected papers?
10-second review: Portfolio assessment has many advantages, but accurate assessment of students' writing is not one of them.
Title: “Questioning Assumptions about Portfolio-Based Assessments.” L Hamp-Lyons and W. Condon. College Composition and Communication (May 1993), 176-190. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).
Summary/Quote: “Like most writing programs, we shifted to portfolios because we thought they provided a more accurate assessment of writing. After examining our assumptions, however, we have found that increased accuracy is not an inherent virtue of portfolio assessment; while it stands to reason that including more writing and a wider variety of writing as the basis for a judgment would make that judgment more accurate, our research indicated that these improvements come not as a result of using portfolios, but as a result of how a faculty or a program approached the task of portfolio assessment.” p. 189.
Summary: Benefits of portfolio assessment: promotes communication among faculty; promotes faculty training; democratizes faculty as older and younger faculty work together; promotes consensus and collaboration.
Summary/Quote: “…it [portfolio assessments], in our experience, is a worthwhile endeavor, even if we were never able to prove that it is a better assessment than a timed writing holistically scored.” p. 189.
Comment: Interesting assessment of a method of assessment that has been promoted in the pages of English education journals. RayS.
"Portfolio Assessment": Collecting student papers over the semester, placing them in a portfolio and involving the teacher and/or other members of the faculty to grade them.
"Timed writing holistically scored": Student completes an essay within a certain time limit (an hour) which is graded by two to three readers without analyzing it line by line.
"Assessment" = evaluation.