“The objective of the portfolio is to enhance the student's self-assessment of his work in relation to the stated objectives. The tool focuses on processes and products over a given period and cover the evaluation and assessment in relation to stated objectives.”
This is how the Ministry of Education starts their recommendation of the use of portfolio as a tool in the Danish primary schools on their website (Link) .
The purpose is to encourage the use of portfolio for all classes in the primary schools from 1st graders to 10th graders: “To create a greater level of reflection for the pupils as well as evidence of what they have learned in relation to specific objectives.”
The Ministry has since 2001 encouraged the use of portfolio – but recently a request for a “objectives setting” in the shape of an elevplan – personal development plan – has been changed. The text in law #150 in 2014 regarding this is: “§ 13 b For the purpose of the continuous evaluation, in accordance with § 13 paragraph. 2, for each student from kindergarten through 7. grade a student plan (elevplan) is to be prepared, which must include the results of the evaluation and the follow-up decided on this.” It is in this regard the Danish Ministry of Education recommends using portfolio, because it allows for every pupil to reflect on their objectives in the student plan. So portfolio can be seen as a tool that helps personalise the learning objectives for the pupil. They are not just something the school demands, but also something that can have a personal meaning.
Encouragement through access to teaching materials
From the perspective of the Nordic Chapter of Europortfolio it is very reassuring to know that our Ministry of Education supports the use of portfolio – and even encourages it, by giving access to teaching materials in this regard. The ministry website also links interested teachers with a practitioner, who has been kind enough to share some of her experiences with the use of portfolio. This is for teachers only – but as an outsider you get examples of how the use of portfolio is structured in for a 5th grader as links to documents.
“To introduce the portfolio as an evaluation tool could mean a change in the way the teacher originally thought his or her teaching. It can be time consuming to develop a portfolio way of thinking that serves as a quality improvement of the teaching. In return, the portfolio is an exciting and dynamic tool that can evolve constantly once it has begun.” The point, the Ministry is making here at the end of the website article, is the importance of getting started so to speak – and to see where the work with portfolio would evolve from there.
Also the professional magazine for teacher – Folkeskolen – offers in Denmark a wealth of resources on portfolio. In here you can find links for the use of portfolio within almost all the subjects areas taught in Danish primary school, as well as access to a debate forum that discusses what portfolio means as a tool.
The recent shift in the use of portfolio, mentioned above, has recently been a subject of a lengthy debate. One example is a teacher, Jeanne Naur, who discusses the combination of student plans and portfolio under the headline: Who are the student plans for? She writes: “But why evaluate the student with the student plans? Isn't there another evaluation tool that more accurately shows the student what the purpose of the specific lessons has been? Oh yes! We have a portfolio folders and evaluation forms, which are far better suited for this purpose and which will give the student a much greater understanding of the course.” (Link). So the use of portfolio is still subject of a very present and acute debate within the primary schools in Denmark.