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From Rote to Wrote: College Admission via Secure ePortfolios

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Document pages: 22 pages

Abstract: Our focus is high school students following STEM learning paths, where STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. We argue for a new system replacing test-focused rote learning with deep reflective learning. Fortunately, new movements in education are supportive of this objective. Growing numbers of colleges and universities are reducing or even removing the evaluative weights placed on standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT. We suggest replacing these tests with secure and vetted student electronic portfolios (ePortfolios) that feature many artifacts of a student’s high school achievements, especially those associated with Project-Based Learning (PBL), as well as the student’s personal written reflections recorded over four years of learning. This more personalized admissions process will provide evaluative information far richer than what is currently available. The proposed ePortfolio process should reduce biases associated with standardized tests, biases related to gender, race, community wealth, and family wealth. Successful scaled implementation of ePortfolios will require several significant, and integrated changes in our educational system: college admissions offices reducing the importance weights of standardized tests; high schools filling the gap with ePortfolio content, requiring high school students to create ePortfolios from freshman year onward; restructuring processes to provide numerous project-based learning activities for students throughout high school; and providing approaches and tools for high school teachers and college admissions offices to assess ePortfolio content.

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