I think portfolios are absolutely essential for innovative teaching and learning at the secondary level for several reasons 1) they allow students to highlight process and progress (this move away from "product" based grading is essential to helping students embrace failure as part of the learning process) 2) they allow students to highlight their skills – some of their essays/artwork/math equations should be showcased because these are the types of skills that will get students internships and jobs down the line 3) They allow students to develop their personal brand and web presence at an early age – a personal brand is increasingly important as we move towards a freelance economy. A recent study predicted that freelance jobs will comprise 40% of jobs by 2020. Students are going to have to sell their skill set 4) Prestigious universities like MIT are embracing portfolios in the admissions process and I have a feeling that Stanford is not far behind – colleges increasingly recognize the superficiality of grades and test scores and are looking for students to differentiate themselves based on their skill set and ability to execute on projects.
A learning portfolio, in my mind, isn't just for art majors and it need not be fancy. A simple website can be a learning portfolio - no need for school subscriptions to expensive student portfolio software. Students and teachers can immediately start building and curating a website that acts as a learning portfolio with platforms like Squarespace, Wix or Google Sites. Learn on and show your work.