Debi Gooding's Digital Portfoilo


Action Research Proposal

Debi Gooding
June 2010
How does supporting and mentoring of teachers help with the process of portfolios being completed on time and correctly
Grading papers is probably the most tedious part of a teacher’s job. In independent study teachers have to prepare portfolios for the state that require many hours of paperwork.

The only part that counts in independent study attendance credit is evaluated work or work products that were completed by the due dates that are established in the Master Agreement and Lesson Plan. Teachers who don’t grade papers will not lose money for their school, but if you don’t fill out the paper work for independent study programs correctly you could cost your school thousands of dollars a year. 

This is why I choose to look into the process that independent study teachers do on a daily basis and how to make it easier and better for all.

I work at an independent study school, at least under the rules of the state, which is what we are classified as. Our school is a Home School for students who work at home with their parent and the guidance of a credentialed teacher. Our school also offers classes for K-5 once a week in academics and enrichment. Our 6-12 grade students can come up to two days a week for classes in math, science, humanities, and study hall. We also have classes on-line to add extra support in Chemistry, Algebra 1 and 2, Spanish 1 and 2, World History, and US History. So technically we are not strictly independent study but the state doesn’t know how to classify us other than that. 

Our teachers meet with students on a monthly basis to review work and collect samples. The teachers also ask questions to make sure learning is taking place and they validate attendance. Once the meeting has taken place and the teacher knows where the students are they make a lesson plan for them to follow for the next 20 school days. If students need more help or more monitoring some teachers have to meet weekly or bi-weekly with students. 

This is where I decided to try and help our teachers in the collection of the paperwork. Once the meeting has taken place you have to go over the paper work, take samples, and make a portfolio for each time you meet called a LP (Learning Period). Once the semester is over we collect all the portfolios, usually about 4 or 5 learning periods, to check for mistakes and make sure that things are not missing that would cost our school money. I felt like there was too much time lapsing before we checked and the same mistakes were being made over and over again. So I wanted to make a process and a booklet for reference, which would help with the steps of collecting and putting together a portfolio with fewer mistakes. 

So over the last year I have been working with one of our schools closely and the others from staff meetings. Putting into place checklists, deadlines, how to space out meetings, and how to put together the portfolios and learning logs. 

Literature Review and Understanding
I read over specific sections of the CDE of the Manual of Independent study to make sure we were following the state procedures. What I found was not only are we doing what the state is asking but more. In the area of collecting student work our school collects more than the state needs for its records and audits.

The District supersedes the state in what they require of schools and that is what they did. CDE requires that you collect one sample per subject per semester. (ch. 8) The District wanted more proof of attendance so we collect one sample per subject per meeting. There is good and bad to this, one it allows room for more mistakes in the paper trail. The good is we have a better idea of how our students are progressing in subjects.

The training and mentoring of teachers also came from this. We saw a need to make the procedure of the LP’s more uniformed which means training of teachers. So we set up training for a week on what to collect and how to collect papers. This was great for the new teachers who attended but it didn’t include the teachers who had already been with us. So this is where I put my focus on. I read that teachers leave the profession within a couple of years due to lack of support. So I wanted to help and guide returning teachers with their portfolios. Let them know that someone was there to help and support them as well. I feel it has helped in the confidence and in the performance of their LP’s. 

Description of the Setting

I choose to work at the La Mesa site because I was the lead there at the time I started this project. I started having Monday morning meetings that include us looking over one another’s student portfolios, discussing students work, and asking for help if needed for students. I was just doing this to make sure us as a site would be able to catch small mistakes before we turned in our portfolios at the end of the semester. I had no idea at this time that this would result in a weekly meeting with all sites doing it. Another reason I started doing this was to help two of our teachers who always seemed to have problems getting portfolios completed and done correctly. 

So every Monday morning for about three hours if needed teachers would sit around a big table, swap folders and look over and note the corrections, if any that needed to be made. Then in the afternoon you would fix your corrections and start working on new portfolios for the following week.


Last year I noticed that many teachers were having to re-do their portfolios and that meant that their school year was not finished until their portfolios were completed. So I thought that it would be good to develop a system and a book for reference when completing portfolios. Another reason I thought this would be helpful was not just for teachers but for our school, if the Student Learning Logs are not completed correctly it will cost the school money. One year we had to pay the state back and I feel it would be good to have more checks in place earlier than later. 

First, I set up what was required in each semester folder. (See appendix)

Master Agreement
ü      Dates need to be from the beginning of the school to the end of the semester
ü      Date of birth
ü      School of residence
ü      Signatures by parent, student, teacher, and SPED if needed, and dated correctly

Learning Period (LP’s)

ü      Correct Class heading (matched MA)
ü      Grades highlighted
ü      Assignment highlighted and corresponds with sample
ü      N/A (on days claimed) on Student learning log (SLL) and P.E. log dates. 

Work Samples in LP and SLL
ü      Students name and dates are correct
ü      All students write name on papers, 3rd and over must have first and last name and date in own writing. K-2 students first name in own writing and date can be written by parent.
ü      Stamp each student sample collected – Correct date, graded, correct subject (must match LP/MA) and signature
ü      Check LP dates against SLL (do they start and end with the same dates?)
ü      Check samples with date to the SLL. They must match if they are on the SLL. Make sure if they write sick you mark absent, if there is a field trip you need to have it in their lesson plans. Make sure the page numbers are in sequence the best you can. If they go out of sequence suggest putting down objectives. 

Made a checklist of things to cover in the first meeting to make sure that all signatures were completed correctly and all information was given. (Appendix 1)

Once work has been collected you’re ready to work on your portfolios. I made a LP check list of what should go into the LP’s each time. (Appendix 2)

Made due date schedule of when teachers meet and when the LP’s should be completed and ready to be looked at by peers. (Appendix 3)

Monday mornings are reserved for teachers to go over one another’s LP’s to help catch any mistakes and fix them before the end of the semester. 

Made a check off list that is taken to each Monday meeting so that teachers won’t forget what has been checked already as well as a list of things that go into the LP. (Appendix 4)

Lastly, made a schedule for EP’s to help spread out meeting dates for their families. (Appendix 5) 

I presented these at a full staff meeting at the beginning of the year. I received some negative feedback but for the most part most teachers were willing to give it a try. 

In March the teachers turn in all their first semester portfolio’s to be checked by the administrative staff. 


I followed and mentored two teachers this year. Teacher 1 and Teacher 2 had unsatisfactory portfolios’ turned in last year. I decided that I would come up with a standardized method to help with errors of portfolios. Teacher 1 and 2 had 35 students which meant they had 140 portfolios to complete second semester 2009. Teacher 1 had completed approximately 30% correct. And Teacher 2 completed approximately 60% correct. 

After mentoring and standardizing the check of portfolios, I looked over Teacher 1 and Teacher 2 again at the end of the first semester 2009. Teacher 1 and 2 completed 190 LP’s and master agreements. Teacher 1 had 83% correct and Teacher 2 had 98% correct. Although it looks like the mentoring and correcting of LP prior to the semester are working I did find some flaws as I was checking them. 

Some new steps that I have noticed while working through and checking these two teachers portfolios will be helpful for next years portfolios. Some of the corrections that needed to be made were in areas that we were not focusing on or checking.

Need to add:
- List of new students and have teachers bring the new MA and check dates against File Maker Pro (student data system we use).
- Bring all LP’s to meetings to check the ending date to the starting date to make sure there are no gaps.
- Also need to check FMP for absences against the Learning log.
In mentoring and working closely with these teachers on their student portfolios I felt that it has helped with focusing on completing work in a timely manner and completing it correctly. I also felt that teachers were discussing about student work more and giving ideas to teachers to help those students who are struggling or who needed to be challenged more. Also I felt that by having a uniformed way of completing portfolios there is less room for errors and interpretations of what is correct.

I was glad I had the opportunity to help these two teachers and or whole school. It also gave me an up close look at what had been overlooked and what needed to be added. I also liked the collaboration of the teachers and the side conversations that came out of looking at student work. Teachers seemed to be eager to help each other and had asked for some type of a handbook to refer to while doing this process. I was glad to see this was needed and intend to present it to the teachers at the beginning of the school year. As I read some of the mentoring articles I noticed that we as educators don’t reach out our hands to help our colleagues. I really wanted all staff to feel successful and feel that they have the support they need. Our school is very unique and parents and students form strong bonds with our staff. So retaining staff is very important for all. I am excited for next year and hopeful that this book will be helpful for all. 

California Department of Education. “Attendance Accounting & the Audit Trail” California Department of Education. n/d 20 Feb. 2010. <>

California Department of Education. “Curriculum and Instruction” California Department of Education. n/d 20 Feb. 2010.

California Department of Education. “Formats for Evaluation of Independent Study” California Department of Education. n/d 20 Feb. 2010. <>

California Department of Education. “Legal Requirements for Independent Study” California Department of Education. n/d 20 Feb. 2010. <>

Davis, B.& Higdon, K. (2008) “The effects of Mentoring/Induction Support on Beginning Teachers’ Practices in Early Elementary Classrooms (K-3)”. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 22(3),  261-274. 

Fantilli, D. & McDougall, D. (2009) “A Study of Novice Teachers: Challenges and supports in the first years”. Teaching and Teacher Education 25, 814-825.

Oldebe, M. (2005). “Helping New Teachers Enter and Stay in the Profession”. The Clearing House, 78(4), 158-163. Retrieved January 5, 2010, from Education Module. 

Song, K. (2006) “A conceptual model of assessing teaching performance and intellectual development of teacher candidates: A pilot study in the us”. Teaching in Higher Education, 11(2), 175-190.

Appendix 1
First Meeting Check List (not necessarily in order)
Student Name:_________________
First Meetings:
1.                  ___ New year Calendar
2.                  ___ Master Agreements
3.                  ___ Academic Honesty
4.                  ___ Handbook and accountability
5.                  ___ Instructional Minutes
6.                  ___ Student Assessment Sheet
7.                  ___ Curriculum
8.                  ___ Log Samples
9.                  ___ Logs
10.              ___ Lesson Plans
11.              ___ Language Arts Samples
12.              ___ Packet for High School (if needed)
13.              ___ Newsletters and Events
14.              ___ Scheduled next meeting
15.              ___ STAR test results if applicable

Appendix 2
LP ____       Date __________
Start/end dates correct________
Log/Lesson dates correct_______
Logs match samples___________
Assignments highlighted LP______
Grades highlighted LP _________
Samples match Highlighted LP___
EP Stamp on all______________
EP stamp completed___________
Name on all_________________
Date on all__________________
PE Checked _________________

Appendix 3
LP due dates and Monday meeting dates. 1st Semester

Meeting  w/families                                           Due
   Sept. 7-10                                                               Oct. 4
Sept. 13-17                                        Oct. 11 staff meeting due Oct. 18
Sept. 20-24                                                              Oct. 18
Sept. 27 – Oct. 1                                                    Oct. 25
Oct. 4-8                                                                      Nov. 1
Oct. 11-15                                           Nov. 8 staff meeting due Nov. 15
Oct. 18-22                                                                 Nov. 15
Oct. 25-29                                                                Nov. 22
Nov. 1-5                                                                     Nov. 29
Nov. 8-12                                                                  Dec. 6
Nov. 15-19                                         Dec. 13 Staff meeting due Jan. 3
Appendix 4
Last Name    First Name    LP2    LP3    LP4
Bell Bethany      
Bell Samuel      
Bell Sarah      
Billingslea Daniel      
Chavez Adriana      
Chavez Caitlyn      
Chavez Loren      
Dorosan Ashley      
Edwards Brigitte      
Esselstrom Josiah       

Master Agreement
Check Master Agreement dates, D.O.B., School, address, signatures, and SPED signatures (if needed)
Check classes on MA – 18 weeks (K-8) or 5 Credits (9-12)

Correct class heading (matches MA)
Grades highlighted
Assignment highlighted and corresponds with sample.
N/A on SLL and PE logs (Days Claimed)

Work samples in LP and SLL
-Students name and dates are correct
-All students write name, 3rd and over must have first and last name and date in   own writing. K-2 date can be written    by parent but preferred that student at least attempts first name.
-Stamp – Correct date, graded, correct subject (must match LP/MA) and signature
-Check LP dates against SLL (do they start and end with the same dates?)
Check Samples with date to the SLL. They must match if they are on the SLL. Make sure if they write sick you mark absent, if there is a field trip you need to have it in their lesson plans. Make sure the pages #’s are in sequence the best you can. If they go out of sequence suggest putting down objectives.

Appendix 5
Schedule of families        2010-2011
Meeting                       Next meeting date                # of students to be seen
Aug. 30-Sept. 3    
Sept 21-24 (2 weeks out)          12 students this week
                                            Newer families

                                    Sept. 28-Oct. 1 (3 weeks out)      9 students this week
                                         Somewhat new families
                                           Oct. 5-8 (4 weeks out)             9 students this week
Great families

                                         Oct. 12-15 (5 weeks out)            9 students this week
Hopefully this will help spread families out through out the year.