Portfolios and passing -- A study in stupidity

By Jason Wojciechowski on January 28, 2004 at 6:18 AM

From almost a week ago, in the Times, comes the story that some schools that were allowed to keep their "portfolio requirements" are now, because of a technicality, being rated as "failing schools" under the current accountability laws.

It's really just another example of the ridiculous state of education today. Paul Krugman recently referred to Bush's No Child Left Behind laws as a "sick joke." One of the things that interested me about the article was that the whole mess began because the schools wanted to keep their portfolio assessment methods of determining who graduates rather than submit to state testing. Unfortunately, the state declined to permit this, and the mess described in the article occurred.

I'd love to implement portfolio-type assessment in my classes. The problem is that it's essentially impossible given the nature of the curriculum that has to be taught, the pace it must be taught at, and the apparent philosophies of the administration. If I could teach these kids at the pace they need to be taught at and teach them the material they need to be taught (i.e. addition and multipliction for the finger counters instead of how to graph parabolas), then maybe it could happen.

These are the reasons I consider law school more strongly every day.