Designing and Implementing a Portfolio Program

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The following set of questions is designed to help teachers and administrators at any level consider all the issues and possibilities in the course of designing and implementing a portfolio program. They are currently framed slightly more in the context of creating a portfolio for graduation or grade promotion, but can just as easily be adapted to the individual classroom or project level. Be aware that every question does not need to be answered in order to design a successful portfolio.


• What academic artifacts should students collect? (Should they collect everything or specified things?)
• What non-academic artifacts should students collect? (Information about jobs, family, friends, travel, athletics, etc.)
• What about work that doesn't have an obvious artifact like community service projects or field trips; how does one "collect" these?
• What about unwieldy artifacts such as artwork or artifacts that can't be moved, like murals and science lab work?
• What about audio, video, and digital work?
• Where and in what type of container will all this work be collected?
• How will it be organized? By subject, by year, by themes…?
• How do we get students to habitually document and collect their work?


• For what and for whom is the portfolio? What is its purpose and who is the audience?
• Should it contain only a student's best work or should it reflect growth?
• What parameters, if any, will be placed on a student's portfolio? Must there be a certain number of artifacts? Must there be artifacts that demonstrate a student's proficiency in or knowledge of some important skills/subjects/experiences? Must the artifacts meet a certain level of quality?
• Who else, besides the student, will be involved in the selection process? To what degree should teachers/advisors/parents/peers have a say in what is and is not final portfolio material?
• Will there be activities specific to the portfolio, such as autobiographical, career related, or college planning exercises?
• How often should students go through the selection process? Once a month? Every semester? Once a year? How much time will they have to select? How will it fit into the school schedule?
• Will the portfolio be required for grade promotion or graduation?
• What about students who fail to properly collect their work, or who have not been productive; what are the consequences for not completing the portfolio?
• Will students with special needs compile portfolios and in what ways will they differ, if at all?

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