Graduation Portfolios: What Parents Need to Know
If you have a son or daughter in grade 10 or 11, you need to read this.
The new graduation requirements arrived last year and they apply to all students who are attending Byrne Creek Secondary School. In Planning 10 students are now learning about these new requirements, and they should be talking to parents about starting their graduation portfolio. (Grade 8 and 9 students cannot yet contribute to their grad portfolio.)
Students in Grade 11 should already have a clear idea as to what the grad portfolio is all about and they should also have some good ideas as to how they plan to meet the requirements of the portfolio. They probably completed part of their portfolio in Grade 10. If that is not the case, they need to get working on it soon.
You probably have many questions. Here's a quick, albeit incomplete, overview for your benefit.
What is a Graduation Portfolio?
Basically, a Graduation Portfolio is a collection of evidence, due in Grade 12, which proves student competence in six areas. Although there are several different aspects that students need to address, the general areas (called Organizers) are related to the following:
Much of the evidence can be collected outside of the school setting. This collection can be compiled in a paper-based format (such as a binder) or it can be done electronically (such as a web-page). It is not just a scrapbook, however, in that it requires reflective thinking about what students do, think, see, and experience.
- Arts and Design
- Community Involvement and Responsibility
- Education and Career Planning
- Employability Skills
- Information Technology
- Personal Health
In simple terms, it showcases a student's strengths, whether those strengths are developed within the school system or in the community or even at home.
How does the Graduation Portfolio fit into the new Graduation Program?
- First of all, it is a requirement for graduation. (What this means is that if a student chooses not to do it, he or she will not receive a high school diploma.)
- It is worth 4 credits the same as any full-year course. (That means that there are only 76 other credits needed in grades 10 to 12.)
- However, it is not taught as a "course" within the timetable. Instead, it is a three-year process in which students compile their evidence in the above areas. That means that there is a bit of freedom to go at an accelerated pace and there is also more of a need for self-motivation than there would be in a classroom situation.
Why was the Portfolio implemented as a Graduation Requirement?
What else should parents know about the Graduation Portfolios?
- The Ministry has embraced this process as a method to encourage students to be reflective, to set goals, to self-evaluate, develop critical thinking skills, problem solve and learn to value learning.
- In the pilot projects (and in some Burnaby settings that already promote portfolios), teachers have found that portfolios encourage students to develop pride in their accomplishments, that they come to celebrate their own individuality as they compile their portfolios, and that they establish links between their learning at school and the community outside the school.
How can parents support the Graduation Portfolio process?
- As stated, the Portfolios are introduced in Planning 10, and the Burnaby School District has decided to offer help to Grade 11 students by assigning a portfolio advisor in each school. The Portfolio Advisor at Byrne Creek is Ms. Lorraine Clair. She is available to answer your questions and support the students as best she can. She will be touching base with every Grade 11 student and setting up individual plans as to how students can complete their portfolio so that it best reflects their abilities and interests.
- In addition, Grade 11 students will be receiving teacher feedback throughout the year, and they will receive a mark at the end of the year to indicate their readiness for their Grade 12 Portfolio Presentation.
- Students will "present" their portfolios in grade 12 in an interview-like format. The presentation is worth 20% of the portfolio mark.
- The Grade 12 Passport to Education is linked to the Graduation Portfolio and only to the portfolio.
Parents are an integral part of this process. Because much of the evidence required for creating these portfolios can originate outside of the school, the first thing parents can do is help students to collect things that they are proud of:
How can parents find more information out about Graduation Portfolios?
- If your son/daughter gets a thank-you card for helping out with a church or sporting or other event, make sure it gets saved.
- Anything related to artistic or construction or mechanical work save it.
- If you can't save the item (ie. a decorated cake) then take pictures and save those.
- If you aren't sure whether something will be used for a portfolio, use the motto "When in doubt, don't throw it out."
- Don't forget that schoolwork can also be used as evidence. You can help Byrne Creek teachers by encouraging your child to do "portfolio-quality" work in their classes and make sure they save any school work that they are proud of.
- Ask your grade 10 or 11 son/daughter for the information they receive in their Planning 10 class and/or from the Portfolio Advisor
- Check out the Ministry website.
- Attend the graduation portfolio meeting that will be held the night of the Parent-Teacher interviews (details will be made available in Planning 10 classes and on our school website).
- Phone Lorraine Clair at the school or email her. She'd be happy to hear your ideas with regards to how she can help your son or daughter get the most out of his or her portfolio experience.