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Student portfolios (especially digital versions) are a great idea. By providing the time and the means for students to collect things that document their challenges and successes, students become more meta-cognitive and invested in their growth and learning. However, the reality for many students (and teachers) is that portfolios have become a chore, a stale exercise -- but it doesn't have to be this way.
Imagine a parent and student have access to and control of information about the student and could choose when and how to share that information with other stakeholders. Imagine that it is not only available 24 hours a day but stays with the family regardless of school transfer. An expanded learner profile could make this vision a reality by building on the current “official transcript” with an expanded electronic student record highlighting learner strengths, needs, interests, preferences and more. A learner profile could simultaneously drive personalization and safeguard privacy.
Assessment is key to creating a more student-centered classroom. Before proceeding, though, I want to clarify what I mean by assessment. I don't mean testing, nor do I mean grading. Unfortunately this term (as well as other terms like data-driven instruction) has been hijacked to mean more testing and knowing students only in terms of their test scores. We know this is unacceptable and does not meet the needs of all students.
Yes, data such as test scores can give us a window into better serving our students, but it's not the whole window. If we truly want to know our students, we must view them as a stained-glass window with test data as only one of many pieces. Assessment can allow us to know the whole child as we create a more student-centered classroom.
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