Portfolio Assessment of a Work-Based Learning Experience

Portfolio assessment can be used not only to assess traditional academic work but also to demonstrate student mastery in work-based learning experiences. A model “career preparation portfolio,” comparable to that in an academic field, might include the following elements, suggests Daniel McLaughlin at WestEd, the U. S. Department of Education’s West Coast regional educational laboratory:

Personal Statement.
Students outline their career goals and evaluate their skills in relation to the Career Preparation Standards [also available from WestEd].

Resume. Students prepare a one-page resume describing their experiences and skills.

Application. Students obtain and complete an application for employment or continued education or training.

Letter of Recommendation. Students obtain a letter of recommendation from someone who knows them well, such as a supervisor, community leader, or teacher.

Work Samples. These pieces of student work demonstrating students’ mastery of the Career Preparation Standards can range from a science experiment to organizing a school or community event to a statistical analysis of a schoolwide survey. One work sample must address technology literacy (such as desktop publishing, graphics, CAD, spread sheets, databases, and use of advanced equipment).

Writing Sample. The writing sample demonstrates students’ ability to reach a conclusion based on supporting information and evidence. Students are evaluated on their writing ability and analytical reasoning. Writing samples can range from a comparative analysis of short stories to a business proposal.

Interpersonal Skills Evaluation. This evaluation of students’ interpersonal skills (team work, leadership, etc.) is completed by a supervisor or teacher after a work experience, team project, or class. Students are strongly encouraged to obtain it from someone outside the classroom (such as an employer, community project coordinator, or coach).

Optional Components. In an additional section in their portfolio students may include any of the following: attendance records; transcript with GPA; extra-curricular activities, certificates, and awards; or cover letter (designed to accompany applications). Students will not be evaluated on these optional components.

WestEd developed the above in partnership with the California Department of Education and the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, and with the help of employers and educators. Several components derive from the Career-Technical Assessment Program (C-TAP). For more information, contact Daniel McLaughlin at WestEd, 730 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94107-1242. Tel.:   (415) 241-2720    (415) 241-2720 ; e-mail: dmclaug@wested.org.