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Posts Tagged ‘portfolios

The report and the official press release on the latest changes to direct school admissions (DSAs) were interesting reads.

I appreciate the removal of barriers like fees and academic tests. DSAs are supposed to focus on abilities and traits outside of academics. Students who get into schools of their choice based on DSA are only there provisionally; their stay is confirmed only if the Primary School Leaving Examination results are good enough.

I also the removal of administrative hassles. Parents can now use and submit one online form instead of dealing with different forms for each school. They also may not need to provide certificates and transcripts because these can be provided via shared databased.

Both the measures above are steps forward. But I wonder if there is a step backward. Specifically, might students need to rely less on portfolios to provide evidence of talents or aptitudes since there is a standard form and data sharing?

Portfolios are not the only source of evidence as schools can opt to conduct interviews, observations, and performance evaluations to gauge students. However, portfolios are (or should be) owned by learners to showcase their products and processes of learning.

At the moment, the use of portfolios seems marginal. I hope schools do not just rely on their processes and centrally sanctioned procedures to evaluate students. After all, the point is towards the individual merits and talents of each child. And that should start with what that child owns.

It might seem strange to remind teachers about the “e” in e-portfolios. Some resort to scanning or otherwise digitising analogue artefacts and putting them online on behalf of their learners.

Doing this denies students the learning opportunities and processes that revolve around creating digital artefacts and knowing how best to share them online.

Put the digital back in e-portfolios!

The BBC has an interesting article on educational policy: Signs of a turning tide on tests. It was interesting to me because the Commons Schools Committee advocated that stakeholders “trust the teachers” instead of relying heavily on things like standardized tests.

From the article:

The report did not argue for an end to all external assessment. But it called for a shift toward more within-school, teacher-led assessment. This, it said, would not only save money but also a lot of the teaching time that is lost to exam preparation and administration.

And this is the key point: it is not about dropping school accountability altogether, but about making sure it does not obstruct teaching and learning.

I hope that the UK does this while the rest of the world watches and learns. I also hope that we in Singapore act on this same issue before it is too late.

I think a scheme like this will work only if a) teachers are treated/nurtured as professionals, b) we expect them to behave as such and c) we hold them accountable for what they do. The measure of accountability should not just be exam results otherwise the test tide will return.

Instead, evidence of student ability, attitudes and skills could be recorded in portfolios, community involvement, personal and group projects, etc. In other words, more authentic, meaningful and rigorous assessments.

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