Portfolios, checklists at Joppa View

November 23, 1992|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Staff Writer

Joppa View Elementary School in Perry Hall has been looking at alternatives to standard grades since the school opened three years ago.

The result: an assessment based on a portfolio of a student's work, a checklist of appropriate skills and behaviors and two mandatory parent-student-teacher conferences.

The portfolio is a collection of a student's work, kept in a folder in the classroom.

The student can put anything he wants into the folder; the teacher also contributes examples of the student's work.

The portfolio includes tapes and videos, so that parents can hear the youngsters read in class and participate in classroom activities, Principal Mary Marchione says.

"The portfolio," she says, "demonstrates specific growth that's measurable." For example, parents will be able to see the differences in a child's printing between the first and eighth weeks of school, she says.

Teachers have developed a checklist for each grade. In addition to academics, it includes general social skills such as working well with others and accepting responsibility.

The checklist is filled in during the conference after a discussion of the child's progress. There are no letter grades. The only mark is a check (*), indicating "behavior is present." If the student doesn't exhibit that behavior, the space remains blank.

By looking at the checklist, a student, with his parents and teacher, can see what he is doing and not doing.

"We are inviting you to participate, and then we give you a completed document. It's much more student-centered" than the traditional report card, says Ms. Marchione.

It's also more time-consuming because teachers need to review tapes and anecdotal information before each conference.

Mr. Desmone said the average conference takes about 45 minutes. Some have lasted twice that long.

Before the conferences began early this month, the staff held meetings with parents from each grade to explain the portfolio, the checklist and the conference.

"The majority of parents are very, very enthusiastic," says Ms. Marchione, who received roses from one particularly impressed parent.

"We're going to pull out all the stops," to get parents to conferences, she adds. "I have gone to pick people up. We have had conferences after 9 at night. It can be done."

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