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In Virginia, "Portfolio" Testing on the Rise

The Washington Post's story today about alternate assessments for students with disabilities provided an interesting behind-the-scenes look into how these tests are graded.

The story also indicates that such portfolios are becoming more commonplace, at least in Virginia:

In Northern Virginia, portfolio testing has expanded significantly over two years. About 8,600 math and reading portfolios were compiled in Fairfax this school year, up from 5,900 in 2007-08 and 600 in 2006-07. Similar trends are playing out in Arlington and in Prince William and Loudoun counties.

Pass rates have increased in part because school systems have grown more comfortable compiling portfolios. Last school year, 94 percent of Fairfax students evaluated through portfolios passed in reading, and 84 percent passed in math, up from 79 percent and 70 percent, respectively, in 2006-07. Statewide, 87 percent of such students passed in reading and math last school year, up from 81 percent and 84 percent the year before.

The article, however, didn't delve into the debate over whether portfolios are a valid measure of a student's academic skills. Project Forum, a collaboration between the National Association of State Directors of Special Education and the federal government, has recently released a document that explores the implementation of alternate assessments nationwide. You can find that document, "The Alternate Assessment Based on Modified Achievement Standards: An Initial Review of State Implementation," by clicking on the appropriate link on this page.

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