Book Review

The School Portfolio: A Comprehensive Framework for School Improvement

Reviewed by Linda A. Fernandez
Associate Professor of Education,
University of Northern Iowa,
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

 

The need for school accountability is undiminished. The trick is to devise methods of communicating school strengths and weaknesses, goals and growth in a way that is useful to the school in its continuous improvement effort and is easily understood by parents and public.

The School Portfolio by Victoria L. Bernhardt describes a systematic method of collecting and analyzing data and evidence that can contribute to both purposes. Bernhardt describes a continuous improvement continuum as a way to provide criteria for assessing student achievement, leadership, professional development and other areas prior to and periodically throughout the school improvement cycle.

One especially well-done chapter contains an in-depth explanation of purposes, methods and uses of disaggregated data. Her presentation includes examples of appropriate and inappropriate analyses and the misinterpretations that resulted.

The examples in each chapter are a strength. Vignettes illustrate the use of portfolios, rubrics, student, staff and parent questionnaires and sample charts and graphs.

If you already have established a successful school improvement process, The School Portfolio provides abundant ideas for supplementing your documentation and accountability. Used as a self-study, it can help you identify neglected areas in need of attention.

(The School Portfolio: A Comprehensive Framework for School Improvement, by Victoria L. Bernhardt, Eye on Education, Larchmont, N.Y., 1999, 252 pp., $29.95 softcover)