Portfolios replace tests for more kids

Despite the high cost of grading, Virginia is letting more students submit portfolios of their work rather than pass tests, reports the Washington Post. At first, only students with serious cognitive disabilities could bypass the state test, but now Virginia allows portfolios to evaluate “students with learning disabilities or beginning English skills.”

. . . Pass rates for portfolio tests are relatively high, which helps educators meet academic benchmarks but raises questions about the tests’ value in rating schools.

Teachers spend hours assembling each students’ portfolio, which shows work throughout the school year. Then other teachers must be hired to evaluate the work.

Parents of special education students often say the portfolio gives a more accurate picture of their child’s progress. However, some think grading is too easy.

Andrea Rosenthal of Oak Hill, the mother of a Fairfax special education student, said high pass rates on portfolio tests are often misleading because many children who score well on them are far below grade level on other measures. “It benefits the state, not the child, to say they are at grade level when they are not,” Rosenthal said

That is, it’s easier to meet No Child Left Behind’s requirements for educating disabled students and English Learners if they’re judged subjectively.

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