Portfolios have long been used in some professions to showcase professional work and skill. In education, portfolios have also been used for assessment, including self-assessment (Lankes 1995; Pond et al. 1998). Both career portfolios and career passports reflect this dual focus—students assess themselves in the process of developing a product, and the resulting product showcases and documents their experiences and skills. A distinction is sometimes drawn between a portfolio as developmental and a passport as summative (Bridging the Gap 1993). With portfolios, more emphasis is put on the developmental process of self-assessment, planning, and goal-setting; with passports, more emphasis is put on the final product that sums up the results of the process and communicates them to others.
In practice, however, both passports and portfolios represent a combination of developmental process and summative product. The value of the passport or portfolio is also twofold: students come to an awareness of their own skills and experience, and employers have richer, more detailed information for hiring decisions than is provided in transcripts and diplomas. As early as the mid-1980s, Charner and Bhaerman (1986) advocated a Career Passport as a way for secondary students to identify and document their work and nonwork experiences and to translate those experiences into statements of skills specifically related to work. The process was necessary for students to understand what they had to offer to employers; the resulting Career Passport provided employers with critical information to supplement the information in school transcripts or even resumes.
The Ohio Individual Career Plan (ICP) and Career Passport. The Ohio Career Passport is the capstone of students' career decision-making process, begun before the ninth grade (Gahris n.d.) The planning and decision making involved in the ICP process lead to each student's Career Passport, an individual credential housing an array of formal documents that students use in the next step after high school. Components include a letter of verification from the school; a student-developed resume; a student narrative identifying career goals and underlying rationale; a transcript (including attendance); diplomas, certificates, licenses, or other credentials; and a list of any specific vocational program competencies. The state recommends housing those components in a consistent, easily recognizable folder. Students develop ICPs through career interest and aptitude assessment, exploration experiences, preferably through job shadowing, and annual review and revision in high school. The ICP and Career Passport can be developed in any statewide curriculum area but most often this occurs in English or social studies, with assistance from the computer instructor and guidance counselor. Classroom support materials include elementary, middle, and high school Career Development Blueprints and sample activity packets (Classroom Support Materials n.d.). All Ohio schools are required to provide students the opportunity to complete the ICP and Career Passport in a structured classroom setting and local school boards may make the Career Passport a graduation requirement for their district, although parents may choose not to have their child involved.
The South Dakota Career and Life Planning Portfolio. The Career and Life Planning Portfolio is a collection of work that documents a student's skills, abilities, and ambitions (Division of Workforce and Career Preparation 1999; "DWCP Wins National Award" 2000). Usually organized in a standard jacket with color-coded folders, documentation can include both examples of work and information on career and education planning, skills employers want, projects/work samples, and assessment results. The Portfolio, which is not required, can be used for a variety of educational purposes, but its ultimate use is to house the projects and work samples that demonstrate to...
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