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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Describing the Chameleon: The Shapes and Functions of Assessment Portfolios, a review of Sandra Murphy and Terry Underwood: Portfolio Practices: Lessons from Schools, Districts and States

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Guided by evidence that portfolios have a chameleon like ability to adapt themselves to diverse environments, Sandra Murphy and Terry Underwood have analyzed eight portfolio systems that represent a range of roles formal portfolio assessment was asked to play in the late 1980s and early 1990s. To date, university portfolio systems have been studied much more extensively than those developed for K-12 students, so this volume provides much needed information about how portfolios have been used to assess younger students and their writing programs. Murphy and Underwood limit themselves to systems created in the public schools that were designed to be read outside individual classrooms. The eight portfolio systems that form the heart of the book range in size from departmental experiments to the national New Standards Project, and range in purpose from a desire to integrate Navajo culture within coursework and assessment to a state-mandated effort to hold teachers accountable for student learning.

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