New Directions in Portfolio Assessment: Reflective Practice, Critical Theory, and Large-Scale Scoring ed. by Laurel Black, Donald A. Daiker, Jeffrey Sommers and Gail Stygall (review)
- Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature
- Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association
- Volume 48, Number 2, 1994
- pp. 190-192
- View Citation
- Additional Information
190Rocky Mountain Review But yet this gift Thou wilt commend, Because I send Thee all. (2: 35) Herrick authored 1,400 poems and maintained a vicarage in Devonshire for seventeen years prior to the execution of Charles I and for fourteen years after the Restoration: these are strikingly inadequate tools of fact for unpeeling the layers of irony in this poem. Certainly, valuing relics, being moved by cross splinters and saints' bones, is commonplace among the seriously devout; yet it strains credulity that this "gem" of a tiny foreskin provokes genuine soul-searching. What does the speak-er's "bleeding heart" metaphorically represent, and why is a swap for the holy foreskin proposed? What are the varieties of meaning for "mine" and "all" in "Mine's faulty too, and small," and "I send Thee all"? Does Herrick offer a tongue-in-cheek approach to the body, self-deprecation about both one's physical and spiritual worthiness, or a deeply felt expression of humility and promise of personal sacrifice? The biographical evidence fails to answer these questions conclusively. How can these volumes be read? Reading in clusters all the poems responding to one particular biblical book makes good sense. Reading as a set all the poems by one and the same author is satisfying, too. Many poets are represented by just one or two poems, but the work of some others—including Emily Dickinson, D. H. Lawrence, Lord Byron—is more generously presented . And, of course, one could browse. The Bible's position as the primary precursor text and as a crucial source for the creative power of poets has been demonstrated for centuries. Chapters into Verse provides ample, endlessly engaging evidence of the Bible's role as a source with which poets cannot resist conducting a dialogue. BRIAN DILLON Montana State University-Billings LAUREL BLACK, DONALD A. DADXER, JEFFREY SOMMERS and GAIL STYGALL, eds. New Directions in Portfolio Assessment: Reflective Practice, Critical Theory, and Large-Scale Scoring. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Boynton/Cook Publishers, 1994. 367 p. After reading the selections in New Directions in Portfolio Assessment: Reflective Practice, Critical Theory, and Large-Scale Scoring, wary teachers and administrators just beginning their journeys into portfolio research might feel as if they've stumbled upon the scarecrow beside the yellow brick road: the essays in this collection seem to point in all directions at once. Read more closely, however, and what you find here is a fascinating collection of essays from the 1992 Miami University Conference on Portfolios. The work in this volume shows just how far portfolio research has come Book Reviews191 since Peter Elbow and Pat Belanoff reported, in 1986, on the portfolio assessment program at Stony Brook. The editors present a group of articles exploring the successes, the questions, the assumptions, and the hype behind portfolio assessment. The table of contents might fool you. The editors imply a tidy point-bypoint analysis of the issues; essays by the four keynote speakers at the conference are followed by Parts Two and Three, which focus our attention on the division between "Portfolios in the Classroom" and "Large-Scale Program Assessment." Tidier yet are the subheadings within Part Two: "Students' Voices," "Teachers' Voices," and "Teacher Training." Despite the impressive organization of the articles, the real strength of the collection is the messiness it brings with it from the conference, a messiness the writers refer to quite frequently as representative of the state of portfolio research. The editors admit from the beginning that "there is no repetitive, cheerful note here . . .[but] extensive problematization of portfolios" and program assessment (4). Pat Belanoff, the first of four keynote speakers featured in Part One, emphasizes the "multiple literacies" that portfolios seek to consider, focusing on the "process movement" shaping our writing courses. She acknowledges, as well, that pressure for greater accountability pushed teachers to look for assessment tools more closely linked to what goes on in the writing classroom , "a recognition by many of us that we need to meet the demands for mandated testing at all levels with systems that do not undercut our teaching " (20). But conflicts arise between purpose and process when we involve portfolios in assessment. Edward White and Peter Elbow, both...