Portfolio assessment and standard classroom tests are distinct ways to measure a student's academic progress. In a portfolio assessment, students present essays, cases, projects and other works developed over a particular class, grade level or throughout their entire middle school or high school career. Typical classroom tests require students to show what they have learned in a unit or semester in a class.


Standard multiple-choice or true/false classroom tests are a common way teachers assess whether students have learned material taught in class. Portfolios allow students a more creative way to showcase their experiences and academic progress. In a typical portfolio assessment, students verbally present their work and argue persuasively what they have learned in a unit or subject. While schools and instructors sometimes believe a portfolio assessment is better for students, many still use standard testing to align with state and national standardized testing programs that assess school performance.