Student Portfolios in the FL Class

Synopsis prepared by Lee Risley
Nearly every message title here refers to “portfolio assessment” in some fashion, but often the contents speak to some different portfolio concerns.
A. Purpose of a Portfolio
B. Contents of a Portfolio
C. Assessment of Portfolios
D. Resources

A. Purpose of a Portfolio

97/06 From->         Clyde Nielson <>
Subject:      Re: Portfolio Assessment

Dee Dee Stafford wrote:

>      We have new textbooks for next year, and as I am already laying the
>overview for each chapter and beginning to create the folders for each
>text chapter, I would like to use portfolio assessment...but I do not
>understand enough about it to use it.  I have been to one workshop, but it
>was a short one, and I need some concrete, broad directions as well as
>some of the "nitty-gritty" details.

Some brief thoughts on portfolios--brief because they're probably
obvious to everyone.  Portfolios, unlike grades, are student centered.
They include the essays, poems, exercises, drawings, and, within the
context of one of the electronic portfolio assessment programs, songs,
videos, and electronic art that your students are most proud of.  Their
primary purpose is to build self esteem, the single most powerful
component of learning. If you use Hyperstudio, there's an excellent
commercial stack designed by a very progressive teacher at Peakview
Elementary in Denver named Karen Peterson.  It's called the Portfolio
Assessment Toolkit and the company is Designer Software.

Clyde Nielson


97/09 From-> Kaseh Abu Bakar <>
Subject: Portfolio assessment and self assessment

Dear listeros,
I am currently exploring the use of portfolio in FL. Upon reading
several literature and searching the FL Teach Archive, I found two
important uses of portfolio:

1) it can be used as a tool to help develop a learner's language learning
skills, especially self-assessment skills and

2) it is also used as both formative and summative assessment tool of
learners' language ability.

While self-assessment appears to be the most precious part/advantage of
using portfolio, several scholars have cautioned teachers against
assigning evaluative judgement, grade or reward to learners'
self-evaluation for fear that such act might affect the self-assessor's

My questions are: How can a FL teacher grade his/her students on the
basis of their portfolios, and at the same time maintain the learners'
honesty How is portfolio best evaluated as indicator of learners'
language progress and ability?

I would appreciate your opinions and suggestions regarding this matter
as they will help shape my graduate projects on using FLTEACH as a
research tool and on portfolio assessment. Please respond off line.
Thank You.

Kaseh Abu Bakar


97/10 From-> Dellawanna Bard <>
Subject: Re: portfolios, projects, alternative assessments

In reply to Dot's question about portfolios: Although we don't use FL
portfolios (yet) at the high school where I teach, at my daughter's
school, students in the FL curriculum have a portfolio that is
cumulative for all the years they study the language.

In it is placed writing samples selected by the teacher and some
selected by the student. In addition, each child has an audio cassette
and a video cassette featuring them personally performing pronunciation
drills, reading poems, putting on skits, etc. These tapes are also
cumulative for up to five levels of the language.

The portfolios are passed from teacher to teacher as students progress
and provide a nice way to see and gauge individual progress. (The
students enjoy seeing their seventh grade selves performing ancient,
belabored skits for example)! I don't know what will happen to these
portfolios when the first wave of students graduates, but I imagine they
will be given to the rightful "owners," the kids, with selected ones
copied as examples for future reference.

As for your presenter's idea that portfolios don't fit in the FL area, I
respectfully think she couldn't be more wrong. In what other discipline
can we witness so much growth and change as the students work their way
up through the levels?

Dellawanna Bard

B. Contents of a Portfolio

94/06 From-> Marie Miller Whitehead  WHITEHEM@ctrvax.Vanderbilt.Edu
Subject: Re: Portfolio assessment

I have some excellent materials from George Washington University's
regional assessment center - several different instruments which can be
used for portfolio assessment. Of course, one of the purposes of the
portfolio is the discussion of what it should contain, which basically
boils down to an exercise in consensus building among colleagues (best
case ) or a feud (worst case).

At any rate, my personal belief is that it should certainly contain
examples of best work, showing progressive development of skills. It
should also contain tests and some reflection on the student's part as
to his/her strengths, weaknesses, interests, and progress. If you do any
group projects, the portfolio could contain the group's self evaluation
- what each contributed, who is easiest to work with, who is most
difficult to work with, etc as well as a sample of the finished group
project. Please let me know if you would like me to snail- mail a copy
of these materials.

Marie Miller Whitehead


94/06 From-> Mike Ledgerwood <MLEDGERWOOD@SBCCMAIL.BITNET>
Subject: portfolio assessment and technology

I am probably going to do a presentation on portfolio assessment at the
Long Island Lang. Teacher's conf. in Oct. In my mind the portfolio for a
language major needs to have a strong oral component as well. Certain
items which can be included are audio and videotapes developed at
different levels by the student in question and even computer files. I
guess I like the creative aspect inherent in a portfolio, taking the cue
from graphics people and want to encourage that. I was wondering if any
of you had knowledge of institutions already using portfolios of this

Mike Ledgerwood


95/09 From -> Bob Hall <>
Subject: Re: Portfolios in FL classes

I am teaching, for the first time in my 33 year career, an IB Spanish
3rd year class. The program requires students to keep a portfolio during
their final year of study(4th year). I'm trying to get a headstart by
having my juniors keep a portfolio. I plan to have them include major
tests, their compositions, commentary on authentic material that they
use, etc. I know that time constraints may prevent the suggestion that
I'm going to offer; but here it is anyway.

Once my students have collected a variety of portfolio material they
will select , from their portfolio, an item that interests them and sit
with me for a 10 minute discussion of this topic. I've yet to do this;
so I don't know about the time it will take; but it would seem to me
that a journal could be used in the same way. Just a thought!

Bob Hall


95/10 From -> "Jo Anne S. Wilson" <>
Subject: Re: Portfolio Assessment

I'm encouraged by the number of people who have actually started using
portfolios. My advice is to proceed with caution and slowly. Be sure you
have department/administrative/student/ parent support. Then, be willing
to be flexible with whatever you do!

The main concern for portfolios in FL classrooms is, I believe, the need
to incorporate an oral component. Not easy to do!

Jo Anne S. Wilson


95/10 From -> Kathy Lennox <>
Subject: Re: Portfolio Assessment

I teach Core French at the elementary level, and I'm part of a panel
which is looking at the use of portfolios in second language teaching.
I've given students a folder to personalize, in which they can store a
few samples of work per month which they have chosen. Each entry to the
portfolio is accompanied by a reflection about the work and why it was
chosen. Information about the student and self-evaluations are also
included. The location of items too large to store in the folder is
recorded on the entry sheet.

The definition of "portfolio" which we are using is "a purposeful
collection of student work that exhibits the student's efforts, progress
and achievements in one or more areas. The collection must include
student participation in selecting contents, the criteria for selection,
the criteria for judging merit, and evidence of student self-reflection"
(F.I. Paulson, P. R. Paulson & C. A. Meyers, 1991). Teachers with
experience using portfolios say the self-reflection aspect is extremely

The concept is still quite new to me, but I'm convinced it will be
beneficial to my students.

Kathy Lennox


97/07 From-> Marilyn Dryden <>
Subject: Portfolios

This year the FL teachers at our high school tried this use of
portfolios: If a student earned an "A" for each of the quarter grades,
he could submit a portfolio of original work in place of the final
semester exam. In the portfolio they included 10 items. Examples
included original poetry, original comic books with illustrations and
dialogue, essays, stories, audio tapes of them speaking, reading, etc.,
video tapes of skits or demonstrations they prepared outside of school,
etc. This seemed sufficient challenge to satisfy my very best students.
They worked hard all semester on regular work and the portfolio and I
was extremely pleased with the results! They received the portfolios
back after I went over them and made comments, etc.

Marilyn Dryden


97/10 From-> Dorothy Raviele <>
Subject: Re: portfolios, projects, alternative assessments

Bonjour mes amis,
I went to a conference on portfolios, rubrics and alternative
assessments today. I was the only Foreign Language teacher there and
felt really out of the loop. Even though we have been trying to use
these techniques in our FL dept., I am wondering how effective we are
being. Our portfolios are nothing but writing folders that have samples
of student work that follow the kids from year to year.

I use rubrics when assigning projects, but these seem more geared to
mechanics and form than content. The presenter came saying how different
it is for FL teachers and that many of the ideas she presented wouldn't
really fit my area. I need your expert opinions again, because I must go
back to school and share my "new learnings" with my peers. Thanks again
for your help.

Dorothy Raviele


97/10 From-> Shaun Duvalls <>
Subject: Re: portfolios, projects, alternative assessments

>I went to a conference on portfolios, rubrics and alternative assessments
>today. I was the only Foreign Language teacher there and felt really out
>of the loop. .....The presenter came saying how different it is for FL
>teachers and that many of the ideas she presented wouldn't really fit my
>area. I need your expert opinions again, because I must go back to
>school and share my "new learnings" with my peers. Thanks again for
>your help.

I can identify. I felt the same way for a long time. Then, through this
fine listserv, I hooked up with the NCLRC last spring and am working on
a project with them and tons of other teachers to develop a portfolio
manual for FL teachers specifically. If you want more info, you can
email me off-line and I'll be happy to send you more.

Shaun Duvalls

C. Assessment of Portfolios

94/07 From->  Marie M. Whitehead  WHITEHEM@ctrvax.Vanderbilt.Edu
Subject: Portfolio Assessment

Several years ago I attended a seminar on alternative assessment
conducted by the regional assessment center of the George Washington
University. What kind of work is in progress to standardize instruments
such as portfolios - even with an evaluation sheet much is entirely
subjective - is there any work being done on the issue of "rater
reliability" - I know that even though many classes, schools, and
districts are using portfolios I see a great disparity among the
requirements and expectations of individual teachers.

Since most FL teachers are familiar with the FSI and ACTFL scales, we
have been accustomed to rubrics; however, I have heard debate even the
specially trained administrators over rater reliability.

Meanwhile, are any of you out there involved in the national standards
or assessment issue and where do you think we are heading?

Marie M. Whitehead


94/11 From-> Rhonda Linscott <RHONDAL@ASMS1.K12.AR.US>
 Subject: Re: Portfolios and Portfolio Assessment

I use portfolios as a collection of works and cultural research done by
the student. Students submit their best writing samples, their best
dialog performances, and their research work and any other work they
liked during the grading period. Students also complete a
self-assessment and include all tests and quizzes. Last year, I allowed
the students to wait to submit portfolios and culture projects as a
combined grade.

However, this caused the instructor great stress at the end of each
quarter/semester. This year I've gone to holistic assessment of the
material because essentially everything that the student has included
has a letter grade or numerical value assigned to it, with the exception
of a possible revision of a writing sample. I look over the material and
assess whether the student has done essentially A, B, C, etc. work and
if the student has included all items specified.

If both conditions are met, I usually assign a letter grade that
corresponds to the overall quality of the work with a plus added if all
work was presented as specified and a minus(or three percentile points)
for each missing element. The self-evaluation sheet is an exception, if
the student fails to complete this it is an automatic letter grade
I then translate the letter grade to a percentile for calculating
purposes. I also tend to add a plus to a student's grade if I feel
he/she as worked to the best of his/her ability in the class.

Rhonda Linscott


95/10 From -> Margit M Palcisko <>
Subject: Portfolio Assessment

I am trying to incorporate portfolios in my assessment of students. I
teach at a middle school and have a wide range of abilities and
maturity. I think that the only way to really assess them is through the
use of portfolios.

However, I am not sure how to implement them without totally
overwhelming myself with work. Does anybody have any suggestions?

Margit M Palcisko


Subject:      Re: Portfolio Assessment

I have been using portfolios and portfolio assessment for 3 years now in
FL teaching/learning. Portfolios are great instruments to collect
samples of students' work, and portfolio assessment is extremely useful
in performance assessment.

However, all the work is "lost" and "meaningless" if an instructional
value is not attributed to such practice; what I mean is that the
continuous assessment of students' work and performance must lead to
evaluation - and I subscribe to the concept that evaluation is the use
we make of all the information collected through assessment. This
information must be used to re-orient the course of study, the teaching
practice and the learning process in general. This is what I mean by
evaluation: it serves an instructional value.

Cocca Capocchi


While the next contribution is asking questions rather than providing direct answers about portfolios, it is obvious Anna Damiens and her group have given the matter quite a lot of thought. You may find it valuable to follow their ideas in creating parameters for assessment through portfolios. Her follow-up communication comes right after this survey.

97/07 From-> Anna Damiens
Subject: Survey Questions:  Portfolios

My group and I are conducting an action research on the use of
portfolios as an assessment tool, and ask if you'd take a moment to
respond to this survey.

    S  U  R  V  E  Y

1. Have you heard of portfolio assessment? Y__N__
2. Are you familiar with the concept of portfolio assessment? Y__N__
3. Do you use portfolios for assessment? Y__N__

(If you answered yes, continue to #12)
(If you answered no, go to #13)

4. Was training provided? In depth__Some__None__
5. Was training adequate for your needs? Y__N__
6. Are you interested in further training? Y__N__
7. With what frequency do you use portfolios?
8. What method of storage do you use?
9. How accessible are the portfolios to:
students Very__Somewhat__Not__
parents Very__Somewhat__Not__
teachers Very__Somewhat__Not__
counselors Very__Somewhat__Not__
10. Does the portfolio utilize technology?
11. How satisfied are you with portfolio assessment?
12. What is your purpose for portfolio assessment?
___a. Developmental portfolio: chronological view of student's
___b. Teacher planning: assess student's abilities for the new school
___c. Proficiency portfolio: to demonstrate competencies and
performances in subject area.
___d. Showcase portfolio: best representation of student's skills and
___e. Employment skills portfolio: to demonstrate skills to prospective
___f. College admissions portfolio: to assess applicants.

13. How satisfied are you with your current assessment methods? Very__Somewhat__Not__
14. Have you considered using portfolios as an assessment tool? Y__N__
15. Has lack of training held you back from using portfolios as an assessment tool?   Y__N__
16. Are you interested in training on portfolio assessment? Y__N__

Anna Damiens


97/08 From-> Anna Damiens
Subject: Re: Portfolio Survey Results

Hola to all:

I would like to thank all those who responded to the portfolio
assessment survey that I posted about a month ago. Since this research
was for a master's of ed. core that I was enrolled in during the summer,
we were not able to survey as many teachers as we would have liked.

However, we did get a basic picture of what people do and don't do with
portfolios, what is holding them back from using them, and what they
feel they require in order to implement this alternative form of
assessing students. If you are curious about the results of our survey,
you can find this information at the following address. It is a webpage
that my group made that also gives more information on portfolio

Again, thank you for your support. The address is:

Anna Damiens


97/10 From-> Rebecca Paeglow <>
Subject: Re: portfolios, projects, and alternative assessments

I must, from personal experience, agree with Del that portfolio
assessment is not only valid for the FL student but fun as well. I
attended high school in Guilderland, NY and in my last few years there
they started implementing portfolio assessment in many areas.

While this had an impact on all of my classes, the difference was
staggering in French. My motivation and excitement to use French
increased dramatically as well as my French output in all the four skill
areas. It is, ultimately, the wonderful time I had in those few
portfolio assessment classes that made me decide to be a French teacher.
When I teach I will use the portfolio system as well.

A side note to all you NYers...we even got portfolios to replace the
dreaded Regents exam (although not in FL I don't think).

Rebecca Paeglow


97/10 From-> Diane Colozzi <>
Subject: Re: portfolios, projects, alternative assessments

>The presenter came saying how different it is for FL teachers and that many
>of the ideas she presented wouldn't really fit my area.

I was just a presenter at the University of Mass at Boston for
Alternative Assessment Practice in New England Foreign Language
Classrooms: Models for Implementation. It was organized by the
Department of Foreign Languages from the University of Mass at
Dartmouth. There were at least 150 foreign language teachers from Middle
School through college. It was great to see so many FL teachers learning
about alternative assessment. I think the teaching of foreign languages
lends itself to alternative assessments methods.

Diane Colozzi

D. Resources

94/11 From-> Carine FEYTEN <>
Subject: Re: Portfolios and Portfolio Assessment

Check out the October issue of "Educational Leadership" vol 52, nr 2,
1994. The whole issue deals with alternative assessment and portfolios.
(philosophy, rationale, portfolio contents, assessment criteria, etc.)



Subject: portfolio assessment

I would like to add to what has been given so far that the latest
Northeast Conference Report has two fine articles on this topic.

Mike Ledgerwood


97/03 From: "Anna M. Gelinas" <>
Subject: Portfolios

Here are some articles of interest to those of you that wanted
information using portfolios in your classrooms. I am not sure what the
protocol is for photocopying these myself and mailing them to you so I
have listed the references and hope that you have access to a university
library. Please contact me off-list if you have any questions or further

Moore, Zena T. (1994). The Portfolio and Testing Culture. In Hancock, C.
(Ed.) Northeast Conference Reports. *This article has project outlines
and scoring criteria, as well as rationale for using portfolios.

Tierney, R. Carter, M. and Desai, L. (1991). Portfolio Assessment in the
Reading-Writing Classroom. Christopher-Gordon. * Assists teachers in
implementing portfolios in class across grades and subjects.

Paulson, Paulson, and Meyer (1991). What makes a portfolio a portfolio?
Educational Leadership,48(5), 60-63. *eight guidelines for portfolio use

Hancock, C. (1996). Alternative assessment in foreign and second
language: What do we in foreign language need to know? In Moore, Z.
(Ed.) Foreign Langauge Teacher Education: Multiple Perspectives.
University Press.

Kingore, B. (1993). Portfolios:Enriching All Students: Identifying the
Gifted. *Guidelines for submissions, criteria for scoring, suggestions
for projects etc.

Moeller, A. (1994) Portfolio assessment: A showcase for growth and
learning in the FL classroom. In Crouse, G. (Ed.) Meeting New Challenges
in the FL Classroom. National Textbook Co. *why, how, what of portfolios
in FL

There are of course numerous other articles, books etc. available on
this topic. They include portfolios in teacher education, portfolios and
preservice/student teachers, portfolios in FL, portfolios in
composition, etc. etc. I can't list them all here but I hope this sample
of my bibliography is helpful.

Anna M. Gelinas


97/06 From->         Elaine Winer <>
Subject:      Re: Portfolio Assessment

The Holt series has wonderful staff development in the Teacher Preface
of the series.  There is one section on portfolio and suggestions for
assessment in the assessment book.

Elaine Winer


97/07 From-> Julie Hamrick <>
Subject: Portfolios

For information on portfolios: Go to an academic library and use ERIC.
Put in the keywords: Portfolios and foreign languages. One good article
(actually an ERIC document) covers the 1993 pilot study done by the
Evansville, IN school system.
It contains a great deal of practical information.

Also, look in the Fall 1996 issue of Foreign Language Annals -- good

Julie Hamrick


97/10 From-> Diane Colozzi <>
Subject: Digital Portfolio lesson

I got many responses about my Digital Portfolio lesson. The entire
lesson is on the Web. Here is the address:

When you get there, click on Digital Portfolios and the link to the
lesson will be on the bottom left of the page.

The new rubrics that I created are not on the web; I will send them via
attachments to the people who asked me about my lesson.

Diane Colozzi

Contributing are:

Elaine Winer
Jo Anne Wilson
Marie Miller Whitehead
Dee Dee Stafford
Dorothy Raviele
Margit M Palcisko Rebecca
Clyde Nielson
Rhonda Linscott
Kathy Lennox
Mike Ledgerwood
Julie Hamrick
Bob Hall
Anna Gelinas
Carine Feyten
Shaun Duvalls
Marilyn Dryden
Anna Damiens
Diane Colozzi
Cocca Capocchi
Dellawanna Bard
Kaseh Abu Bakar

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