Q: My child has anxiety issues, and I’m wondering if I can get a list of the questions you’ll ask him during the evaluation. I just want to help him be less nervous.
A: A lot of students and their parents are nervous about the legally required discussion that’s part of the portfolio review evaluation. But you both can relax.
Florida law requires the portfolio review evaluation to include a discussion with the child. But a discussion isn’t the same as a quiz or test.
In fact, testing is part of two other evaluation options, but is not supposed to be part of the portfolio review evaluation. A portfolio review evaluation is, instead, meant to be low stress because it doesn’t focus on the student’s performance during one test but instead involves looking over records of the student’s learning that happened over months. So no one day’s work should make or break the evaluation. As an evaluator, I will be discussing with the student the learning documented in the portfolio and the progress it demonstrates. This means that I won’t be asking questions. I won’t be quizzing the student. He won’t fail because he can’t remember something from a learning activity six months ago.
For an in-person evaluation, or an evaluation done via Skype or FaceTime, the student usually sits and listens as the parent describes documentation in the portfolio. The student can speak up and add to what the parent says or just sit and listen, but the student is there and is a part of the discussion. If the student adds little to the discussion and prefers to listen, that’s fine as long as he's there and is part of the discussion. Some people find it helpful to think of it like a parent-teacher conference that the child attends and is allowed to participate in.
For an evaluation that’s done in two steps, with the portfolio (or reasonable portions anyway) sent via email or mail first, and then a follow-up phone call, the discussion with the student still isn’t a quiz or test. Instead, the discussion involves describing to the student the educational progress I’ve seen shown in his portfolio. The student may choose to add commentary on his major accomplishments during the year or might choose to ask questions. If the student has little to add to the discussion, that won’t derail the evaluation as long as the portfolio shows that he has grown academically from the beginning of the year. Seeing progress in the portfolio is the major part of passing a portfolio review evaluation.
I hope this helps,