Standardized Testing: Portfolio Assessments

I think back to my days in the classroom and shudder at the thought of our state-wide standardized assessment. I'm sure all of you have come across this at some point in your career -some states are starting as early as first grade for these tests! As an educator in a special education school, I usually had at least one student who qualified for the alternative assessment. These were reserved for children who would not be able to take a paper and pencil test, regardless of the accommodations provided. One year, I had three students. What this means is that my life for the months from January to April (when they were due) was devoted to making portfolios, because if anyone knows about these tests, the student's success relies heavily on the aesthetics of the stupid binder presentation, and much less on the actual academic work. But I digress...

I will keep my thoughts about state-testing to myself (from now on), particularly the portfolio-version of this test. You can make your own opinions based on the information. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for the state of Massachusetts has provided the following information about the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System Alternate Assessment (MCAS Alt):

MCAS is designed to measure a student's knowledge of key concepts and skills outlined in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. A small number of students with the most significant disabilities who are unable to take the standard MCAS tests even with accommodations participate in the MCAS Alternate Assessment (MCAS-Alt). MCAS-Alt consists of a portfolio of specific materials collected annually by the teacher and student. Evidence for the portfolio may include work samples, instructional data, videotapes, and other supporting information.

After months, and months of data collection, 1:1 work, and seemingly endless paperwork, the expectations of the portfolio is complete. Then, you spend days upon days, organizing and putting together the portfolio (as the organization is also scored...). Finally, the entire portfolio is complete!
Regardless of my own personal opinions surrounding the controversial alternate testing, I have decided to share some samples of a completed portfolio with you in pictures:

I used this idea from Pinterest to add a little pouch in the front of my testing binder. This was not the binder I submitted, but it was the one I used to contain all of my testing materials, such as the evidence worksheets, the self-reflections I made which were required for evidence submissions, and materials for the activities, such as scissors, stickers, etc., and of course, reinforcement in the form of M&Ms!

This is a close up of the dividers I created to help with my own organization. Our school's Administrative Assistant created the dividers to be used for the portfolio (as these are controlled by the state as well...), but for my own organization, I created these quick ones to help keep things in one place. Each standard had 2 tabs: one for To Do worksheets/evidence activities; and one for Completed worksheets, evidence activities. Even though I only need self-reflection sheets for the 2 or 3 pieces of evidence I am going to submit, I like to have my students complete self-reflections for each piece of work, so I don't have to determine which pieces I want to include beforehand. That way, if each of them has a self-reflection, I have more options in the end. Because of the number of self-reflection I required, I had a tab for my self-reflection sheets as well.

Because of how time consuming this task is, I required an entire day, out of my classroom, just to organize this. I set up shop in our school's resource room and spread all of my materials across the table. These materials included: my computer (with the MCAS-Alt online portfolio information), all of my work samples and work binder, my official portfolio binder, and any extra pieces of information I needed to add to the official portfolio that wasn't in my testing binder. These included a school calendar, my student's class schedule, including any pull-out services, an introduction letter, a cover designed by the student and any signed forms required to submit the portfolio. And of course, I needed my coffee. (In my favorite mug, that has since been shattered by a student!) After spending nearly 6 hours staring at the computer, inputting all of the data and endless information, I completed the portfolio, and was ready to submit it to my supervisor. I ended up having to make some minor changes, but this was nothing compared to all of the work I had put into this assessment throughout the school year.

ABA at Play: evidence-based practices, individualized supports, accommodations, self-monitoring, data collection procedures, ABA teaching strategies, visual supports, reinforcement procedures, tangibly-maintained behavior, escape-maintained behavior, staff behavior change, social validity

Do any of you have to do a similar process for you state's testing? If so, how do you manage the amount of time and stress it takes you to complete this?

1 comment

Thanks for the comments! I look forward to reading them :)

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