Negotiating Authority in Portfolio Classrooms: Teachers' Use of Assessment Theory to Critique Practice

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The authors present a model for theoretical consideration of classroom practices by teachers themselves. An example of this interpretive process of theory-informing-practice, and reflection-on-practice then reshaping theory, is provided in this case study of two teachers who both introduced portfolio reading and writing assessment programs in their secondary classrooms Reviewing their pilot portfolio semester in terms of student/teacher authority negotiations has enhanced the teachers' and their co-researchers' understanding of power/authority shifts related to changes in writing instruction and assessment—factors that might otherwise have been difficult to analyze within the complex "authentic" context of classroom-based assessment reform.