ERIC Number: ED374433
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994-Aug
Ahead to the Past: Assessing Student Achievement in Writing. Occasional Paper No. 39.
Calfee, Robert C.
In the mid-1980s, partly through new developments in curriculum and instruction, a new assessment option has arisen under the banner of alternative assessment. The basic idea appears in several guises: "authentic assessment" (implying that standardized tests are not authentic), "performance tests," and "portfolios." The goal of writing portfolios is to provide an opportunity for a richer, more authentic assessment of their achievements, to show their potential given adequate time and resources. A survey of a broad array of portfolio practices around the country finds that: (1) the portfolio approach is energizing the professional standing of classroom teachers; (2) respondents showed a distaste for evaluation; and (3) teachers had little concern about technical matters like validity and reliability. Individual teachers interpret the portfolio concept quite differently in different settings. If portfolios are taken seriously, most students react seriously. One way to connect parents and schools is to place the students in a central role through the portfolio. Barriers to alternative assessments are substantial: time, money, motivation, and institutional support. The greatest hope for realizing the promise of portfolios may spring from the local school and the classroom teacher. Two caveats need to be observed: assessment practice and policies should be consistent for all teachers in a given school; and the audience and purpose for the assessment need to be established. Educators have made great strides during the past 50 years--the portfolio concept is but one example. (RS)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy, Berkeley, CA.