I’ve Got You Covered!

Looking for a simple summative assessment to see what your students know at the end of the school year?

Try a portfolio cover sheet!

Theses cover sheets get glued to the outside of student art portfolios at the end of the school year.  My idea was inspired  by things I have seen in catalogs and also from several other blogs out there who have been assembling “Portfolios” in creative ways as a celebration of learning at the end of a school year.  Teacher’s Discovery, a company I have worked with before with Traveling Art Exhibits, sells small 8×10 portfolios that already have different activities similar to mine printed right on the portfolio!  Check them out if you are looking for something like this, there are a wide variety of portfolios you can buy from them for a quick and easy way to make an impact when you send art home.

For me, I knew I wanted something custom to the Power Standards in my district, as well as combining some new questioning skills I have learned from assessment trainings I have recently attended, so the example above is my take on the whole concept of assembling a portfolio cover sheet.  I also need portfolios that are very large to hold the size of my students artwork (20×28 is the size of paper I use for my portfolios)

These are the perfect solution to a problem I’ve had for awhile now.  I never know what to do with the kids while the other students are helping pass back their art on my “Portfolio Day”  (IE: Pass back art and control mass chaos and loud voices day). I am not a fan of allowing kids to “free draw” on the front of their portfolios because they always look like crap. I am sorry, but they do.  Is that the first thing you want your parents to see when kids bring home artwork? Crappy art? I don’t think so… Some teachers have a project that students can do on the front of the portfolio. This idea is better.. However, I have such limited time, I do not prefer to waste time on a project that is on a portfolio that may get thrown away…  So, the answer for me: Do an assessment right on the portfolio!

This Concept ROCKs Because:

  • They are the easiest assessment you will ever give.
  • They provide you with knowledge about what your students know from the course of the year and what they have retained.
  • It’s a great way to get data for your art program without administering a bubble test, like we do (but thankfully that is changing)
  • The will provide reflection for students and a review of their entire year in art class.
  • They are so FUN the kids will not even realize it’s an assessment.
  • They are another great way to communicate with parents about what is happening in your art program.

For younger students, I would like to see a cover sheet that is a little more visual and incorporate less writing and more drawing. Stay tuned as I show you more about the logistics of Portfolio Madness! I know it’s not the end of the year, but as you all know, Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail.. So I want us all to get a jump start on ending the year right!

How do you know what your students have learned at the end of the year?

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • like this idea!

  • Jen


    I love this idea. My students created a portfolio at the beginning of the school year. We made ours into ”Portfolio-Passports”. My theme this year is art around the world so…the students did a self-portrait on the left side of their portfolio and then on the right they wrote “The United States of America” Their name and class code. Under this info I put a stamp for each country we visit and they write the name underneath. I thought maybe I would continue this for next year and I could create a stamp for each artist they learn about…or idea…ex. Your idea can easily be added to the back! Thanks soo much! :)

    • I absolutely adore the “Around the World’ idea. I used to do something like this back when our curriculum was different, but I want so badly to put it back in (and I find my ways to do so!) The passport idea is so cute! Keep the ideas coming.

  • hope knight

    you are right… free-drawn portfolio covers always look like crap! i’ve just never heard it said (or read it written ) out loud. i will definitely try my own version of this – thanks for sharing.

    • Maybe I am too honest. hahaha! Not that freedom and choice are a bad thing.. There is plenty of time for that, however on the portfolio I always felt so sad when I looked at them all scribbled on.

  • Love the portfolio assessment! What a great idea and a wonderful way to communicate through the student what they learned through the school year!
    Thanks for sharing!

  • allison

    what an awesome idea!!!!!!! i am definitely going to do this – i am an art hoarder for the same reasons you are and now i’ll have an excuse for keeping the art – it will all go home in the portfolio! also, i totally agree with you that the art should be something that is not folded or stuffed in a backpack. i don’t know how many times i have heard the teacher tell the students to fold the art and put it in their mailbox after i explicitly told the kids NOT to fold it!!!! very nice!

  • Sharon Nosal

    I LOVE this idea! I have been teaching art for 9 years now, and every year I do something new with the portfolios my students make. There are always a couple days in Oct. that I know I will be out of school for, so I have one of my subs. make the portfolios with the kids. They are both retired art teachers – I know, how awesome is that! I have a couple pretty simple name design lessons that work really well for this, and always turn out really nice! I agree portfolios can look like crap if not done right!

  • I love your portfolio reflection idea! Thanks for the inspiration. I had a good laugh relating to your thoughts on free draw portfolios too:)

    Do you also use these with kindergarten or first grade (I’m wondering about the reading issue)?

    • I will need to redesign any portfolio covers for younger students to incorporate more drawing skills, finish the picture, or practice of fine motor. You are right – Pre-readers will need something different to be successful.

  • Courtney

    I have a question about portfolios. I am about to start my second year of teaching, and although I love the idea of a portfolio for each student, I’m not certain of the best way to implement it. This year I will be moving to a K-2 school with approximately 600 little ones. I don’t think I’ll have a problem getting the kids to make a portfolio, and I feel like I could keep each folio pretty organized by storing them in a separate drawer or box per teacher. However, how do I get each art project INTO the portfolio? If I let the kids file their own projects, won’t there be a huge crowd at the portfolio box? And some might get filed in someone else’s folder. I could pass them out in the beginning of class and take them back up at the end but that seems like it would take up alot of my already short class time. Plus, keeping bulky portfolios on the table during working time would take up alot of desk space. I’m not sure I could file all 600 myself? What do you do? Any suggestions?

    • Courtney,
      Great questions!
      Kindergarten: Myself and my volunteer stuff their portfolios ourselves and are sent home with parents at conferences. They are too little to handle this for me and I find it worth the time.
      1st grade: We have designated “portfolio days’ where students help pass back art and stuff their own portfolio. This takes about 30 minutes. I might do this twice a year. Portfolio goes home near the end of the year. I use this same model with all the other grades.
      While they are passing back the portfolio, they fill out a Cover Sheet to review art concepts.
      I hope this helps! Mostly the portfolio stays in my drawers until I need them.

  • I enjoy your page very much. You philosophy about art very enlightening. This page as helped me evaluate the way I teach. I see a lot of ways to incorporated the ideas into my classroom. You really inspire me. Thanks for all you do to help those developing as an art teacher. I have read your information about Portfolios. I must ask , what do you use to make your portfolio for so many students? Or do you purchase them?

  • Jfrisco

    I absolutely LOVE this!  Thanks!

  • Erica

    Hi Jessica! I love this! I want to adapt it though to suite my needs… Do you have a version of this anywhere that can be changed or could you remind me what program you used to make this?

    • Erica,

      I use Pages on a mac. I can send you the raw file if you want. Just let me know.

      • Erica

        That would simplify my life so much! Thank you for sending me this I know how much work it was.
        I hope you are doing well and enjoying the transition. Working from home has its own set of challenges! I found out this summer:) when trying to do photography very part time. Shooting my first wedding this weekend!

  • jordan

    I would love to get a copy to use as a template for my assessment this year.  Love your blog!  Thank you, jordanjlund@gmail.com

  • Uccegoodier

    A great document and would be great to be adapted for end of project evaluations. Could I possibly have a copy of the template to use with my classes??


  • Melissa

    does anyone have any suggestions for portfolios and middle schoolers? This is my first time teaching middle school and I would like to implement a portfolio, I’m just not sure what the best way to go about this is. Thanks!

  • I love this idea for the older kids. I need one for kindergartners.

  • Virginia

    I was just looking for this and couldn’t find it. I went to Ms. Knight’s blog site and requested information on where she found it and when I came back to your site it suddenly popped up! Thank you!