European Portfolio Certificate (EPC)
History of the EPC Comenius project:
In 2008 a European Comenius Project started to create a portfolio-based assessment method called the European Portfolio Certificate Project. The partnership consisted of 12 Steiner Waldorf Schools across Europe, with five national and regional federations, ECSWE and two British accreditation organizations (ASDAN and N-OCN). In 2010 the project ended and the result was a blue EPC-folder with the ECSWE logo, the EPC guidelines published in 7 languages and a website www.epc-group.org. A growing number of schools engaged in portfolio work.
What the current portfolio project entails:
The European Portfolio Certificate (EPC) Folder is created for students who complete a Steiner Waldorf School education at secondary level, open to adaptation by other interested schools.
The project has
- set up common criteria for the EPC;
- created a common folder for the EPC;
- edited Guidelines that can be used by Steiner Waldorf and other schools interested in implementing the EPC in future;
- made the Guidelines available in nine European languages.
The EPC folder is to contain:
- a final report;
- certificates of portfolio work;
- the student’s own selection of individual learning outcomes.
Each certificate of portfolio work (also called Portfolio Certificate) contains the following key elements:
- an abstract, by the student, of the particular portfolio work;
- a description of the particular project by the student, followed by a factual review of activities
- success criteria followed by a reflection on how the achievements were attained;
- evaluation criteria followed by a self-evaluation of the particular portfolio work by the student;
- an external evaluation (by a teacher or other qualified person).
Portfolio Certificates can also be issued in relation to extra-curricular activities, sport, music, IT, etc.. They need to only be a summative end product, but can also reflect a process of formative assessment.
This project is part of a process that has been under way for many years among Steiner Waldorf schools, the aim of which is to make competence shown in project work, plays, work experience, concerts, multi-language activities and other types of non-formal learning activities that flourish in a Waldorf upper school as well as in informal learning from outside formal learning visble in a leaving certificate that gains the bearer access to Higher Education, Further Education or employment.
This variety of formal, non-formal and even informal learning outcomes have not yet been adequately acknowledged by vocational and academic training institutions, since documentation of learning outcomes has usually only covered the formal part of education, and these generally without making specific learning outcomes visible. The project partners believe that the development of a competence based portfolio can be beneficial not only to their own schools but also to many other schools.
There’s a demand from society, parents as well as authorities to measure the outcomes of the student learning in a way that often results in traditional marking in upper schools. These marks, however, only give a narrow view of a portion of the student’s development that can be seen in education and, in particular, Steiner Waldorf education. The portfolio assessment is one of the rare assessment tools that can give evidence of more imponderable aspects inherent in Steiner Waldorf education.
School leaving certificates such as A-Levels, Abitur, Baccalaureat, Matura etc., formerly considered “gold standards”, are increasingly being called into question (many universities already do their own entrance testing) because:
– they often do not assess adequately of what had been learned in school;
– they eliminate many candidates for Higher and Further Education by selection at course entrance level;
– there is a high drop-out rate among those who gain university access with old-fashioned “gold standard” qualifications (in some cases as high as 30%).
The EPC can address these problems by focusing on the following aspects:
- recognition and increased visibility of a far wider range of learning outcomes (formal, informal and non-formal);
- the students’ own choice of EPC components, and hence a greater sense of ownership of the certificate.
- pedagogical benefits on the students’ part that come from years of portfolio/project work: students become accustomed to reflect on their own learning, learn to cogently present their work to others and benefit from the resulting peer assessment;
- increased motivation resulting from this process, a boost in the quality of teaching (breaking with old habits) and consequent improvements in relations between students and teachers and even students and parents.
Anybody interested in receiving material or in participating, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The members of the epc group are: Margareta Van Raemdonck (coordinator), Detlef Hardorp, Ulrike Sievers, Ariëlla Krijger and Rita Lock, with the former coordinator, Thilo Koch, functioning as an advisor.