Portfolio Assessments for English Language Learners

Portfolio Assessments for English Language Learners
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  • 0:03 Using Portfolios
  • 0:45 Writing Samples
  • 1:14 Pictures & Recordings
  • 2:08 Teacher Checklists & Notes
  • 3:02 Student Reflections
  • 3:26 Tests & Quizzes
  • 4:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Mills

Sarah is an educational freelance writer and has taught English and ESL in grades k-12 and college. She has a master's degree in both Literacy and TESOL.

A student portfolio is a collection of artifacts that demonstrates progress and growth over a period of time. This lesson describes how teachers can use portfolios as alternative assessments for English language learner (ELL) students.

Using Portfolios

Not all students are able to demonstrate their learning using traditional measures. This is especially true for ELL students, who often have limited English proficiency and may have difficulty reading the directions of an assignment, let alone completing it. Portfolios are a great alternative to standard assessments because they measure student growth over a period of time, rather than language proficiency.

Many teachers choose to keep student work in a file folder over the course of the year, and they allow students and parents to look through their work and reflect on their growth. Other teachers have found digital portfolios to be a preferable alternative. Let's take a look at some examples of documents that teachers can store in a student portfolio.

Writing Samples

Samples of a student's written work are one of the most common additions to an assessment portfolio. A student's writing can tell you a lot about his or her abilities. If a student with limited English proficiency is able to write a barely comprehensible sentence on the first day of school, but can write several mostly comprehensible sentences by mid-year, a portfolio can help document that success. This gives you an idea of what the student has accomplished and allows you to set new learning goals and vary your instructional methods as needed.

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