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This book is a study, in research-based narrative form, of one middle school's implementation of a new portfolio assessment plan in response to statewide policy changes in California. The book highlights the interactions of state, district, and local forces as teachers work to implement a portfolio-assessment plan that collects student work and evaluates it systematically. It examines a portfolio-assessment project that views student work through three progressive lenses: warm, value free; cool, analytical; and hard, critical. The plot of the book traverses a 15-year period in California during which assessment drove instruction across the state, often in unexamined and contradictory ways, always in powerful ways. The book traces the ebb and flow of a variety of assessment philosophies located in living rooms, classrooms, principals' offices, district headquarters, and in downtown Sacramento (the state capital)--a variety of philosophies coming and going that left behind fixed, predictable histories of conflict in classrooms. Its story appears to have parallels in the recent history of schools all over the United States. Chapters in the book are: (1) "Washers, Dryers, and School Reformers"; (2) "The Portfolio-Assessment System as an Innovation at Charles Ruff"; (3) "Portfolios in Review"; (4) "The Seeds of Change in California, 1983-1994"; (5) "Ruff Unified School District"; (6) "Inside the Middle (School)"; (7) "Ruff Instruction"; (8) "Ruff Students and Their Portfolios"; and (9) "Conclusions and Implications." Contains an Epilogue, an Appendix giving the research method, and an extensive list of works cited. (NKA)

Descriptors: Case Studies, Curriculum Development, Educational Change, Educational Policy, Educational Research, Middle Schools, Portfolio Assessment, Public Schools

National Council of Teachers of English, 1111 W. Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096 (Stock No. 36281-0015: $19.95 members, $26.95 nonmembers). Tel: 877-369-6283; Web site .

Autor: Underwood, Terry


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