What Are the Characteristics
of an Effective Portfolio?


Portfolio assessment is a multi-faceted process characterized by the following recurrent qualities:

  • It is continuous and ongoing, providing both formative (i.e., ongoing) and summative (i.e., culminating) opportunities for monitoring students' progress toward achieving essential outcomes.

  • It is multidimensional, i.e., reflecting a wide variety of artifacts and processes reflecting various aspects of students' learning process(es).

  • It provides for collaborative reflection, including ways for students to reflect about their own thinking processes and metacognitive introspection as they monitor their own comprehension, reflect upon their approaches to problem-solving and decision-making, and observe their emerging understanding of subjects and skills.

Although approaches to portfolio development may vary, all of the major research and literature on portfolios reinforce the following characteristics:

  • They clearly reflect stated learner outcomes identified in the core or essential curriculum that students are expected to study.

  • They focus upon students' performance-based learning experiences as well as their acquisition of key knowledge, skills, and attitudes.

  • They contain samples of work that stretch over an entire marking period, rather than single points in time.

  • They contain works that represent a variety of different assessment tools.

  • They contain a variety of work samples and evaluations of that work by the student, peers, and teachers, possible even parents' reactions.

Source: Paul S. George, (1995). What Is Portfolio Assessment Really and How Can I Use It in My Classroom? Gainesville, FL: Teacher Education Resources. 

s Back to Portfolio Assessment Page

s Back to Instructional Strategies Page


This site was developed by the Department of Staff Development, in collaboration with the Division of Instruction. Questions, comments, and other inquiries may be addressed to Allene Chriest (achriest@pgcps.org) or Jeff Maher  (jmaher@pgcps.org).