Popham, Chapter 8 Pondertime & Chapter 9 Pondertime, Due February 15, 2012

Chapter 8 Pondertime (p. 209, #1, #5)
1.  What do you personally consider to be the greatest single strength of performance assessment?  How about the greatest single weakness?

A performance assessment, rightly conceived and executed is the closest you can get to verification that a student has experienced authentic learning.  That is its strength, namely that it skips along the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy, high level skills, ready to be applied to real problems, and ready to be built upon and extended.

Greatest single weakness is the artificial one, namely “it takes longer to grade.”

But if all of high quality classroom interaction is performance assessment at a high level, does this weakness still carry any weight?

5.  Do you prefer holistic or analytic scoring of students’ responses to performance tests?  And, pray tell, why?

Analytic scoring I think combines two important ingredients, i.e. uniformity of grading with detailed feedback.  I just can’t help but think that holistic scoring is just a cop-out.  How can I look a student in the eye and tell them this is one number that sums up their X-hours of work?  I like the following approach.  “Some classroom teachers have attempted to garner the best of both worlds by scoring all responses holistically, then analytically rescoring (for feedback purposes) all responses of low-performing students.  (Popham, pp 197)”

Chapter 9 Pondertime (p. 227, #2, #4)
2.  Three purposes of portfolio assessment were described in the chapter:  documentation of student progress, showcasing student accomplishments, and evaluation of student status.  Which of these three purposes do you believe to be most meritorious?  And, of course, why?

First, I should say that my school uses portfolios extensively.  Second, I should also say that we are currently in our Spring Exhibition cycle in which portfolios play a key role.  So, this is a timely chapter and an extremely relevant question.

I believe the use of portfolios that has the most merit is in documenting student progress.  In part because I really like the students having to self-evaluate and I don’t see that as an option when portfolios are only used for showcase work, or purely for evaluation of student status.

I also like that a portfolio that is a living document has more value throughout an educational cycle.  For example, I foresee that a portfolio is used on a daily basis, and then content is culled or archived from the main portfolio as milestone assessments are reached and the best work from a given cycle is carried forward.

So, in part, a portfolio that is documenting student progress is almost a formal superset of not only a portfolio that only has showcase items, but also one which is only used to evaluate student status.

4.  If it is true that portfolios need to be personalized for particular students, is it possible to devise one-size-fits-all criteria for evaluating classroom portfolio work products?  Why or why not?

I believe it is possible to create effective general criteria for evaluating classroom portfolio work, especially for a diverse population of students.  I think that the criteria could be effective for helping make inferences on student learning, and still be relatively simple.  I think this is most effectively done by having students be aware of the criteria which will be used so that they can react against those criteria in the self-evaluation of their portfolios.  I also think that it is in that interaction, that the criteria are more effectively refined and or broadened to take into account the personalized learnings that are taking place.


Popham, W.J. (2011). Classroom Assessment: What Teachers Need to Know. (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.


I liked this graphic as it helps inform a decision to use or not use performance-type assessments.

Evaluative Criteria for Performance-Test Tasks. (Popham, pg. 194)


Sometimes I wish we could select the two questions we wanted to answer from each chapter’s Pondertime®.

Differences in Assessment Outcomes between Portfolios and Standardized Testing Practices. (Popham, pg 212).


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