According to Moya and O'Malley (1994), the idea of educational portfolios was adapted from the portfolios used by artists to showcase the depth and variety of their work, while also reflecting the artist's interests and abilities. Although the idea of an educational portfolio is similar, the authors point out that educational portfolios must be expanded to meet the instructor's educational and assessment needs. A portfolio is not just a showcase, but it is the product of the instructor's carefully planned and implemented plan for assessment (Moya and O'Malley, 1994). Because no single method or measure of assessment can provide educators and administrators with a full picture of the student's abilities, it is wise to include multiple forms of assessment in one's instructional plan.
A portfolio allows for the collection of multiple authentic measures of ability in all four language modalities. Moya and O'Malley (1994), set forth several components of successful portfolio implementation. A portfolio system should be: comprehensive, authentic, informative, and most of all, well planned. A comprehensive portfolio should contain samples of work and rubric assessments that cover all four language modalities. A comprehensive portfolio should not contain everything that a student has done. The assessments contained in the portfolio should be authentic, and they should also be meaningful to anyone who looks at the portfolio. Additionally, the portfolio system needs to be well planned by the teacher before implementation takes place. The teacher needs to have an idea of what types of assessments will go into the portfolio and how often the formal assessments will take place. This doesn't mean the teacher has to have everything planned down to the minutest detail- a portfolio system should also be flexible (Moya and O'Malley, 1994).
While much goes into the implementation of a successful portfolio assessment system, because it is an authentic, ongoing, and versatile form of assessment, much can be learned about the strengths and weaknesses of our students. Portfolio assessment, in conjunction with traditional methods of assessment, can provide a more full picture of an English language learner's abilities and provide teachers, administrators, parents, and students with important information to make academic decisions.
Moya, S. and O'Malley, M. (1994). A Portfolio Assessment Model for ESL. The Journal of