Beyond Portfolios

After 13 years of work getting a K-12 education, why is it that all a student has to show for it is (if things go well) a diploma?

It seems to me like our goals should be so much different, such as:

In writing: students should have a very rich blog with hundreds of quality posts on it, as well as several major self-published pieces and several other items that were genuinely published by outside sources (editorials in the local paper, columns for a trade magazine, etc.)

In science: students should have at least one patent and/or at least one invention that they’ve actually created a prototype for (or, better, that has had copies of which have actually sold)

In math: students should be able to balance a checkbook, understand how to stay out of debt and avoid credit spending, and understand how to interpret biased statistics and advertisements correctly; they should also be able to solve any real-world math problem they may encounter in life (figuring out the reduced cost of having improved gas mileage, determining  the amount of interest that would accrue on various home loans, figuring out which jar of peanut butter costs less per ounce, being able to make two-thirds of a batch of something, etc.).

In social studies: students should be able to read every article in the newspaper and understand (when applicable) the article’s significance and the historical events that have led up to the event being described.  When applicable, students should also understand the geography of the location(s) being discussed, as well as the religious and political backgrounds of the people groups involved

Finally: students should be heading to their post-K-12 life with a plan for the future, rather than just heading to college because everyone is doing it.  They should have an extensive understanding of a significant number of careers in their preferred field(s) of study as well.

13 thoughts on “Beyond Portfolios

  1. Some schools (such as those based on expeditionary learning) do take a portfolio-based approach (although maybe not quite as advanced as you’re describing.) I’d love to see this expand through the community.

  2. I think the idea of a comprehensive portfolio is excellent. Students would have an array of accomplishments at his or her fingertips, allowing teachers and others to see their progression through the years. Your ideas about the possible accomplishments a student should make in the different curriculum areas are also good- they are creative and challenging.

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