Publications & Resources

Whose Work Is It? A Question for the Validity of Large-Scale Portfolio Assessment

Jul 1993

Maryl Gearhart, Joan L. Herman, Eva L. Baker, and Andrea K. Whittaker

Criticisms of standardized assessments of children’s writing have focused on issues such as the limited time provided to students to write, the artificiality of writing topics and assignments, and the restricted genres of writing assessed. Responses to these criticisms have prompted a move toward further authenticity–performance-based assessments that may incorporate shared readings of common background texts, collaborative planning, and opportunities for students to revise their work. Based on an in-depth analysis of nine elementary teachers actively using writing portfolios in their classrooms, the researchers of this study focused on the question of portfolio authorship, that is, “whose work is it?” If students receive assistance from parents, teachers, and classmates, then when raters assess student portfolios, whose work are they assessing? The authors conclude that if portfolios are used to rank or make serious decisions about students, schools or districts, portfolio ratings should be adjusted to reflect differences in levels of support and assignment difficulty.

Gearhart, M., Herman, J. L., Baker, E. L., & Whittaker, A. K. (1993). Whose work is it? A question for the validity of largescale portfolio assessment (CSE Report 363). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).