Date of Award



© 2016 Ann Carlock

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Michelle Collay

Second Advisor

Suzan Nelson

Third Advisor

Stephen Masyada


Portfolio Assessment is a form of testing students’ knowledge, skills and understandings that is credited as an accurate measure for teachers to identify the nature and levels of student literacy. Such assessment helps teachers to have a heightened awareness of the level of students’ degree of learning. Teachers can better align their instructional strategies to best support the various students’ learning styles and natural differentiation of learning occurs within the classroom. An additional benefit is that Portfolio Assessment increases reflection opportunities for both students and teachers. There is an increase in learner agency in which students take a greater sense of ownership about their own learning. Student responsibility increases when they are held to a higher level of accountability. This study focused on the use of Portfolio Assessment by high school social studies teachers. This study was inspired by the problem of misalignment of curriculum, instruction, and state testing and how that misalignment contributes to the persistence of the achievement gap. This study builds in part on the work of Polikoff, Porter, and Smithson (2011), who argued that 17% - 27% of the content on state assessments are not aligned to the content described by the state standards. Archival data contained in a statewide pilot portfolio assessments were examined and teachers’ perceptions about the benefits and challenges of portfolio assessment were documented. The findings presented in this study indicate that the more complex and somewhat unique methods of Portfolio Assessment are grounded in research about learning and assessment. Documentation of students’ and teachers’ experience using the portfolio assessment framework was triangulated through the collection of data. Portfolio assessments provide evidence of students’ conceptual understandings as documented in the feedback collected during the teacher interviews. The purposeful sample of teachers described Portfolio Assessments as a more comprehensive and more formative assessment model. The Portfolio Assessment structure requires comprehensive analysis of student learning and informs teachers whether and to what degree students can demonstrate and apply Social Studies concepts, providing them strategies to be active, informed citizens after leaving high school.


Ed.D. Dissertation