using a writing portfolio would be a vehicle that promotes growth. I have also come tounderstand that a portfolio cannot be standardized; what is good for one set of students inone class may not be suitable for another group of students, even if they are in the same gradeand attend the same school. The portfolio is simply a tool that helps meet the needs of stu-dents, and it must be customized according to individual interests, abilities, and maturity.Selecting the components of a portfolio is determined by choosing tools that are appropriatefor students to learn and grow.
ORGANIZATION OF OUR READING PROGRAM
In our middle school, seventh- and eighth-grade students with literacy problems are assignedto a class called English/Reading, which is team taught by both an English and readingteacher. Students who have fallen below the 30th percentile on a standardized reading testadministered to all students in our district, as well as students who have been recommendedby the sixth-grade language arts teachers, are scheduled for this special class. Of course, stu-dents realize that having two teachers in one class is not typical of middle school and ques-tion this arrangement. We are quite forthcoming and explain that their reading and writingare not as strong as they might be and that having two teachers doubles the instructionaltime; therefore, we can more quickly help them improve. We also stress how fortunate thestudents are to have this type of instruction and that when sufﬁcient improvement occurs,they can move to a regular English class.Imustbeforthrightinadmittingthattheteamteacherapproachmakesmanystu-dentsuncomfortable.Inourschool,mathissimilarlyorganizedtoprovideremediation,butothersubjectsaremodiﬁedbyhavingsmallernumbersofstudentswithjustoneteacher.Studentsalwaysknowthatregardlessofwhatyoucallaclass,orhowyouexplainitsbeneﬁt,thereisadifferencethatseparatesthemfromotherstudents,andtheyhateit! Adolescentsdonotwanttobedifferentfromtheirpeers.Manyofthesestudentsseemtoresenttheteachersthatrecommendedthemfortheseclassesorwhokeepthemenrolledinthisformofremediation.Westronglybelievethatallofourstudentscanimproveandcontinuallytrytoconveythistothem,butitisaconstantbattletohelpstudentsmain-tainapositiveattitude.It’s also important to point out that having two teachers in a class of ten to twelve stu-dents does make a tremendous difference in the quality of instruction. Every possible teach-ing arrangement can be used in these classes: one teacher may be providing instruction, andhis or her teammate may be assisting others; each teacher may take an individual group to work with; or a teacher may take one student for an intense instructional period while theother teacher facilitates cooperative group instruction. As the needs of the students becomeevident, roles and teaching patterns can be ﬂexibly organized.
CHANGING ASSESSMENT PRACTICESAND USING APORTFOLIO PROCESS
Assessment techniques that were part of past teaching practices also needed to be changed.For example, the red marks teachers placed on composition papers were replaced by ques-