Educators can insure a comprehensive and an in-depth accountability of each student’s progress toward specified standards through the use of eportfolios (electronic portfolios) that are a student’s self-selected purposeful limited collection of evidence toward the progress of a standard.
Teachers realize that eportfolios show accountability since the eportfolios focus on the teacher, school, district, state or national standard. A ninth grade English teacher may structure the eportfolio around the four New York State English Language Arts Standards. The teacher decides which of the standards and which of the subcomponents the students will be responsible for.
Educators use eportfolios since they usually are very comprehensive. The New York State English Language Arts (NYS ELA) 11th grade Regents may only briefly measure three out of four standards while an eportfolio can measure all four.
Not only are eportfolios comprehensive but they can show more in-depth work than a final or state benchmark. The NYS ELA Regents only four standards-based tasks. Based on the teachers’ expectations, the students may have to include evidence of many different subcomponents of any one standard or they may have to provide several examples of a particular subcomponent.
Students develop life long skills in accountability as they do eportfolios since they select which of their work best document their own progress. The teachers select the standards and the subcomponents and the students select which of their many already done works or artifacts they will use for their documentation. The evidence is not prescribed by the teacher. Students are accountable for their own documentation and the selection of which work provides greater accountability for the students.
Students show their ability to understand their teachers’ criticism of their work and to make the indicated changes in eportfolios. The students can demonstrate their changes through such techniques as a different color coding for their changes or by labeling their changes on the side of a project. They can do side by side comparisons of the original work and their thought-out revisions. They see their own growth in very obvious ways.
Likewise, students demonstrate accountability by reflecting on their work for each standard. Often students use a modified KWL which is KLW; they state what they knew before, what they learned about this standard, and what more they want to learn about it. Their reflections demonstrate their ability to be accountable for their own learning.
Some teachers use eportfolios as ongoing accountability during the year. Students periodically review their eportfolios such as on a quarterly basis to decide if they have better evidence for any given standard; if so, they put in the new evidence.
Students who know what they have to include in their eportfolio will see class work, assignments, and projects as contributing to a bigger picture of learning. They focus on the standards. They think of the quality of work they have already done and decide if they need to do better in future projects.
Teachers often use an eportfolio as a final since the eportfolio provides a comprehensive and in-depth accountability for the standards. This thorough assessment provides a better picture of student learning than an on-demand two hour final. Also, since the teachers have already seen the original work and the revisions, the teachers focus on the reflections to see what the students have identified as their learning and areas for improvement’s students have already done most of the work, with the exception of the reflections, that will be included in the eportfolio during the year so their final task is to compile the eportfolio.
Educators usually include in the eportfolio template a summary page in which they provide a rating and brief comment for each standard for the student. This summary page provides the next year’s teachers with a solid base line on the students’ progress toward the standards.
Teachers have a choice about what eportfolio media they want to use. They can use general programs such as word processing, PowerPoint, webpages, or linking programs. They may want to use a non-commercial web-based eportfolio application such as SAKAI/OSP or they can might want to use commercial eportfolio programs such as LiveText or StreamTask. All of these programs will help provide student accountability.
When teachers start to use eportfolios in the class, they will want to start small with one standard and decide what different types of evidence they want to see. They will make sure that students do several different examples of these types of evidence as part of their regular classroom work or homework. They will show the students a completed eportfolio and model the reflection process.
Students do well on achieving standards when they have the accountability of eportfolios.