Northwest Prep Portfolio Defense
-Based on Envision Schools Graduation Portfolio Handbook developed in conjunction with Stanford University’s School Redesign Network
What is a Portfolio?
Over the course of each year all NWP students create an Academic Portfolio that demonstrates their own performance and growth in a number of targeted learning areas. These portfolios include exemplars of student work, paired with reflective essays which focus on the 7 NWP Leadership Skills, the three modes of doing (observe, think, act), and our core academic abilities (research, inquiry, analysis, and creative expression). In the final quarter of 8th, 10th, and 12th grade, students defend their portfolios before a panel of peers, teachers, and community members. Much of the Crossroads class time throughout each semester is geared toward the creation and refinement of these portfolios.
NWP Graduation Vision: Lifelong Learning & Leadership
To graduate from Northwest Prep Charter School, a student must demonstrate proficiency of various concepts, skills, and understandings learned through the completion of academic coursework and undertaking of major projects. Students must also present evidence of proficiency in all of the NWP Leadership Skills.
Northwest Prep’s Leadership Skills are the foundation of the Northwest Prep educational program. They are the backbone of NWP’s school culture, curricular goals, and the basis for assessment of each student's progress and growth. When students leave Northwest Prep for targeted post-secondary experiences, they leave proficient in all of the Leadership Skills. We know from our graduates that students who are truly proficient in these skills will be successful no matter what path they choose after high school.
Personal Integrity- Students handle themselves with confidence and act with honesty and courage. They commit to their developing beliefs and are willing to assume roles as inquiring observers, active participants, and dynamic leaders. They demonstrate positive working relationships across diverse groups, accept personal responsibility for their actions, and remain open to learning from the feedback and guidance of others.
Productive Collaboration- Students develop and use the skills necessary to plan and engage in group projects. They work to resolve social and logistical conflicts and devise solutions to meet diverse needs. They collectively set goals and develop strategies to meet those goals. They evaluate the effectiveness of their approach and constructively adapt to new understandings as they arise.
Critical and Creative Thinking- Students identify problems and pursue opportunities from multiple perspectives. They locate, organize, analyze, and apply key information in inventive and imaginative ways. They design, evaluate, and employ a variety of strategies, tools, and skills to achieve innovative results. Students are independent, creative, and critical thinkers who question and connect to the world around them from both big picture and focused perspectives.
Effective Communication- Students understand and practice effective communication using verbal and nonverbal language with intent, awareness, and accuracy. They are empathetic, emotionally intelligent, persuasive, and articulate. They are skillful self-advocates who effectively communicate their needs. Students internalize and present their understandings and ideas with confidence and clarity. Employing a variety of media, they use practical, academic, and artistic abilities to convey meaning in a clear and engaging fashion.
Reflective Learning- Students excel at making critical observations about their own learning and potential. They formulate meaningful and relevant questions that inspire and encourage further inquiry. Students consistently take charge of their education by reflecting upon and revising their own practices.
Citizenship and Global Responsibility- Students are engaged and informed citizens. They are empowered to create positive change in themselves, their communities, and the world. They are mindful and principled decision makers who understand the long and short-term effects of their actions on others and the environment. They practice compassionate, ethical, and active citizenship in local, global, and virtual settings. Students strive to achieve balance between their own needs and the needs of others.
Resiliency and Drive- Students are adept at taking intelligent risks and view mistakes as necessary steps toward learning and growth. They consciously identify their intentions and desires. They possess the tenacity and determination to work individually and collaboratively. They are self-motivated and self-regulated. Northwest Prep students confront challenges and persevere through adversity.
Definition and Purpose
The NWP Graduation Portfolio is part of the body of evidence used to assess whether a student, utilizing multiple indicators (e.g. the completion of coursework, participation in projects, community involvement, and other measures) is prepared to be successful in college and in the workplace.
The Three Modes of Doing (Observe, Think, and Act) - form the basis of every project at Northwest Prep. In the opinion of NWP students, they are the three actions required to do anything, the phases you must go through to do your best on an assignment, and the most prominent points on the cycle of learning and growing.
Completion and presentation of the NWP Graduation Portfolio is required for all seniors and serves several important purposes for students and staff:
1. Requires each graduating student to demonstrate what he or she knows and is able to do in an individualized format;
2. Emphasizes the importance of reflecting on one’s learning (meta-cognition)
3. Enables a committee (of a student’s peer(s), teachers, and other community members) to assess his or her readiness for college and work
4. Produces meaningful indicators of student learning that inform curriculum development and teaching practice at NWP
5. Promotes a shared understanding among students, teachers, parents, and community of the quality of work that graduates have been engaged in during their tenure at NWP
The NWP Graduation Portfolio is a separate, specialized portfolio compiled from artifacts contained in each student’s general Student Portfolio. The Graduation Portfolio is not a random compilation or collection of a student’s best work in different subjects. It is the deliberate and thoughtful selection of student work assembled by the student in a unique and compelling way to provide evidence of his or her learning at Northwest Prep Charter School.
The Oral Defense of the Graduation Portfolio is an individualized presentation of learning during which the student reflects on his or her work, provides evidence of proficiency in NWP’s Leadership Skills, and demonstrates how his or her work both meets the school’s criteria for graduation and supports his or her personal and professional goals.
Components of the Graduation Portfolio
1. A student cover letter and introduction to the portfolio
This cover letter will help anyone reviewing the portfolio to orient themselves to the individual student and the contents of the portfolio. This introduction will also address how the student’s work demonstrates his or her application of the NWP’s Leadership Skills.
2. A digital arrangement of student work
Each graduating student must select and include in his or her portfolio, as part of his or her evidence of learning, artifacts of college ready work produced in the course of interdisciplinary semester projects, that exemplify his or her strengths as a learner. Artifacts are drawn from the archives in each student’s general portfolio.
3. Reflective Summaries
For each portfolio artifact, a student must choose a format and create a reflective summary that attests to the relevance of each of the work artifacts included in the portfolio that:
• Provides evidence of the student’s Leadership Skills
• Discusses the essential concepts, specific understandings, and task-specific skills related to the work entered in that content area
• Describes the relevance of the concepts learned and application of the skills used to complete the work.
The process of creating reflective summaries, in various formats, is one that students will practice numerous times in the course of their daily project work.
4. Internship Artifact & Reflection
All students are required to participate in spring Internships during their junior and senior years. Students must include artifacts/projects that document their experiences in each year’s professional placement.
5. Assessment of Student’s Leadership Skills
Teachers will assess each senior student’s proficiency level on Leadership Skills using the NWP Leadership Skills Rubric included at the end of this guide (coming….)
Compiling the Portfolio
NWP staff will help students compile appropriate work artifacts, evaluate the quality of reflections, help students prepare defense presentations, and finally, help determine whether each student passes the Oral Defense.
Personal and Academic Connections
• How are the concepts you learned to create this work artifact relevant to your personal and academic growth?
• How did the creation of this artifact affect or change the way you look at and understand yourself and the world?
• What are the essential concepts and understandings that this artifact demonstrates?
• What skills and strategies did you apply to complete this artifact?
• What challenges did you face in completing this task? What did you learn when you overcame those challenges?
• What Leadership Skills are evident in this artifact?
The Oral Defense
As the culminating opportunity for students to demonstrate their learning and college readiness, students will identify and present a cohesive defense of at least THREE of their work artifacts from the Graduation Portfolio. Using these artifacts as the body of evidence, the student will have an opportunity to demonstrate proficiency in the NWP Leadership Skills, and demonstrate how the work artifacts both meet the school’s criteria for graduation and support his or her personal and professional goals.
This defense will take place before a panel consisting of the teachers and peers. Family members, community partners, district administrators, and internship mentors may also be encouraged to participate as members of the panel.
The Oral Defense of the Graduation Portfolio will take place in the spring of a student’s final year of high school. In the event that a student does not pass his or her defense, the student will have the opportunity to re-defend.