There was a time at the end of the nineties, when I developed educational programs for one of Texas’ first charter schools that I believed we might move toward project and portfolio based assessment. In my lab students demonstrated mastery with web pages, class magazines, cd-rom projects and even videos broadcast on public access television.

Why did the experiment collapse?

  1. Because it didn’t translate into other classrooms. Most teachers are inherently conservative. They learned a model in college and don’t respond with enthusiam to the evangels of change.
  2. Any teacher with a decade under his/her belt knows that the current paradigm will be replaced before they master this one (if they even bother). Remember rubrics, and the seven modes of learning? How about Engfish? (That should take you back a few decades.) To them the newest model is nothing more than a fad, and, when it comes to practical applications, they’re right.
  3. In the end, all schools answer to legislators and legislators hate touchy feely methods like portfolios. Especially in Texas, where educators can’t be trusted to educate. How do they know? Because they deliberately underpay them. Legislators like numbers, and that means standardized tests. You can’t trust a portfolio. It might be filled with froufrou (and, trust me, in many cases they’re right).

Written by

Living metaphor. Follow me @stephens_pt.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store