Talking It Out

We have three major forms of student assessment at LiHigh School. The first is student exhibitions, where the students stand up and give a public exhibition of the work they accomplished and the challenges they faced during the life of a given project. The second is a narrative evaluation written by me (the advisor) and directed to the student’s parent(s)/guardian(s) about the student’s work over the length of a given term. And the third is the portfolio review, which is what I’d like to talk about today.

The portfolio review is where the student sits down to discuss their work with their Learning Plan team, which usually consists of the student, the student’s parent(s)/guardian(s), the student’s advisor, the school’s two co-directors, and the student’s mentor (if available). The Learning Plan team uses this time to ask questions about the student’s work, to engage in conversation with the advisor about anything mentioned in the narrative evaluation, and to provide further feedback regarding the student’s work and the student’s challenges throughout the past term. The end result of the portfolio review is a revised Learning Plan that gives the student guidance on how to proceed with their education during the next term.

What I like about the portfolio review is that it is a conversation, a back and forth between the student and his or her Learning Plan team. The student is not receiving an A or a B or an F for the work they did during the previous term. Instead, they’re hearing feedback and receiving suggestions on how to improve. It shows that the student is not being assessed according to some standard decided upon by bureaucrats in some distant city; but rather, the student is being assessed by the people who know him or her best, and who have a genuine interest in seeing the student improve, regardless of where the student is starting from.

This will be our first year using the portfolio review as a major form of assessment, and I am excited to see how our students, parents, and wider community respond.