How to Use Rubric for Assessing Portfolios

Assessessing portfolios with rubrics makes the task easier.

An increasing number of teachers are implementing portfolios into their classrooms because they see the benefits to their students. When students organize their projects and assignments by using portfolios, they are better able to reflect upon their learning. This helps deepen their understanding of the lessons. At the end of the unit of work or at the end of the semester, the teacher must decide how to evaluate the portfolios. Similar to the assessment of other student work, rubrics can assist in this process.

List the criteria to use for the assessment of the portfolio. Decide upon what is important, such as neatness and completeness. Include other criteria that you instructed the students to consider when they first set up their portfolios. For example, if you asked them to include a table of contents or to date each piece placed in the portfolio, then these will be included on your list.

Create the rubric by writing your list down the side of a page of paper. Across the top write numbers from one to five. Draw horizontal and vertical lines to form squares across the page.

Write a description of what would represent the highest score for the first criterion on the list. For example, if the first item on your list was neatness, your highest score may be described as: "all work is very neatly detailed, all writing is legible, all drawings are cleanly executed, all pages are not curled or folded or torn."

Work across the page, changing the descriptors slightly for each lower score. For example, if the descriptors in Step 3 describe a perfect score of five, the descriptors for a score of four would include phrasing such as, "almost all of the work" and "almost all of the writing." Similarly, a score of three would include slightly modified descriptors such as, "most of the work" and a score of two would be described as "some of the work" whereas a score of one might be described as "only a few pieces ..."

Describe the degree of completeness for all the criteria until the chart is complete. For example, if you had six criteria on the list, each criterion will be described in five possible degrees for a total of 6 x 5 = 30 description boxes on the page. Print multiple copies of each rubric for the number of students there are in the class.

Take each students' portfolio and assess it, using the list of criteria. Keep the rubric in front of you as you examine the portfolio. Place the student's name on the top of the rubric. Place check-marks on the appropriate level for each criteria. The total score could be added if you feel that each criterion on the list is of equal value. For example, if a student received scores of 4, 4, 4, 4, 5 and 3 on the six criteria, the final mark on the portfolio would be 24 out of 30 or 80 percent.

Freddie Silver started writing newsletters for the Toronto District School Board in 1997. Her areas of expertise include staff management and professional development. She holds a master's degree in psychology from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing her PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, focusing on emotions and professional relationships.