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Portfolio Confusion and the Education Advisers' Debate

Barack Obama spokeswoman Melody Barnes' statements on NPR about her candidate's support of student portfolios as a method of assessment have caused quite the dust-up. It even came up at the debate between the education advisers to the campaigns

Barack Obama spokeswoman Melody Barnes' statements today on NPR about her candidate's support of student portfolios as a method of assessment have caused quite the dust-up. It even came up at the debate between the education advisers to the campaigns—Lisa Graham Keegan for John McCain and Linda Darling-Hammond for Obama.

During the 90-minute debate at Teachers College, Columbia University, Keegan brought up the portfolio issue, noting: "The problem with backing off of assessments and turning them into portfolios that are more subjective is that we can't compare kids. That's where we were before we had accountability."

Keegan, who is McCain's chief education adviser, emphasized that "state standards and the assessments have got to stay in place."

Darling-Hammond, one of several education advisers to Obama, said quite a lot about assessment: "If you look at other countries, their assessments include relatively few multiple-choice items and in some cases none. Their kids are doing science inquiries, research papers, technology products. Those are part of the examination system." (Are those examples part of a broadly defined "portfolio"?)

Darling-Hammond addressed what Barnes said—and didn't say—on NPR directly:

She said in addition to standardized tests we need to look at other assessments. She did mention portfolios. They are used in the charter school she is on the board. ... And we have to get knowledgeable about what does go on in other countries. ... They routinely include elements like research products, they are scored, they are scored in consistent and reliable and valid ways.

In general, the debate, co-sponsored by Education Week and its Web site, edweek.org, was vigorous, and pointed at times, the two advisers talked about teacher quality, the need for more research, whether money matters, and even whether either of them would like to be their nominee's secretary of education.

The article “Portfolio Confusion and the Education Advisers' Debate” was published on the 21st of October in “Education Week” http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2008/10/obama_on_portfolios_does_he_or.html

Published Monday, Oct. 27, 2008

Portfolio Confusion and the Education Advisers' Debate

Barack Obama spokeswoman Melody Barnes' statements today on NPR about her candidate's support of student portfolios as a method of assessment have caused quite the dust-up. It even came up at the debate between the education advisers to the campaigns—Lisa Graham Keegan for John McCain and Linda Darling-Hammond for Obama.

During the 90-minute debate at Teachers College, Columbia University, Keegan brought up the portfolio issue, noting: "The problem with backing off of assessments and turning them into portfolios that are more subjective is that we can't compare kids. That's where we were before we had accountability."

Keegan, who is McCain's chief education adviser, emphasized that "state standards and the assessments have got to stay in place."

Darling-Hammond, one of several education advisers to Obama, said quite a lot about assessment: "If you look at other countries, their assessments include relatively few multiple-choice items and in some cases none. Their kids are doing science inquiries, research papers, technology products. Those are part of the examination system." (Are those examples part of a broadly defined "portfolio"?)

Darling-Hammond addressed what Barnes said—and didn't say—on NPR directly:

She said in addition to standardized tests we need to look at other assessments. She did mention portfolios. They are used in the charter school she is on the board. ... And we have to get knowledgeable about what does go on in other countries. ... They routinely include elements like research products, they are scored, they are scored in consistent and reliable and valid ways.

In general, the debate, co-sponsored by Education Week and its Web site, edweek.org, was vigorous, and pointed at times, the two advisers talked about teacher quality, the need for more research, whether money matters, and even whether either of them would like to be their nominee's secretary of education.

The article “Portfolio Confusion and the Education Advisers' Debate” was published on the 21st of October in “Education Week” http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2008/10/obama_on_portfolios_does_he_or.html

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