Portfolio Frequently Asked Questions

What is a portfolio & why do I have to make one?

  • A portfolio shows your growth as a professional. It contains documents and samples of your best work. It provides an opportunity for you to celebrate your accomplishments!
  • There are various requirements for your portfolio depending on whether you are creating it as an employment tool or for educational purposes only. The key is that it reflects your education, skills, and experiences.
  • It is a requirement of the ACDS program. If you plan to continue your education beyond ACDS, most colleges/universities require that you have one.
  • Over the course of your career you may end up making other portfolios. For example, one simply documenting your educational achievements and one demonstrating your work experiences. You may use them as an interviewing tool, and once hired your employer might ask you to prepare one reflecting only your current employment.

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I have too much to do right now. Can it wait until the end of the semester?

This is not a good idea. Some students often overlook the importance of this project and feel they will be fine throwing it together at the last minute. It will be far less stressful if you begin preparing it right away, starting with your first semester, since you will more than likely have questions along the way. Organize it properly from the beginning. Doing so will also provide you the opportunity to consider how creative and professional you can make it appear.

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Another person in my class went way overboard and put a lot of cutesy scrapbook cut-outs on hers. That's just not me. Do I have to do that too?

No. While your portfolios will have some of the same types of necessary documents, it is supposed to look how you want it to look. It should reflect your personality and your idea of professionalism. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, "If someone were presenting this to me, would I want to hire them?" Look for a way to make it stand out. If you are a home provider or teacher, for example, you might want to include, within the sections or perhaps just on the cover, pictures of you working on something with the children.

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Does it have to be typed? Does it have to have labeled dividers? Do all the papers have to be in plastic sleeves?

Not necessarily. This is your choice. If you are unable to type it or purchase the dividers and plastic sleeves, simply make it as organized as you possibly can. Handwritten pages should be neat and free of grammatical or spelling errors.

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Is someone going to help me with it?

Your instructors will assist you along the way. Ask if you have questions. At the end of each semester, it will be reviewed by members of the local council. Missing items will be noted and the person reviewing your portfolio will sign off on it.

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I can't find some of my records. Now what?

You have sole responsibility for the items in your portfolio. ACDS coordinators and the Department of Labor - Office of Apprenticeship are not responsible for your OJT's, certificates, etc. All too often students who have graduated will call requesting verification of program completion after misplacing their portfolios. While some of your information is in the ACDS database, copies of your paperwork are not. ACDS and Local Councils are only required to keep paper records on file for five years. It is strongly recommended that you make extra copies of important documents.

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So what exactly am I supposed to have in my portfolio?

Keep in mind that a portfolio is NOT the same thing as a class notebook, in which you would keep your class notes, returned work, etc. These are two entirely different things.

When in doubt, always go back to the Portfolio Record Forms (Forms 14 and 14.1 through 14.4). These are provided to you by your instructors for each semester, and they are also on the website.

Some of the documents required by the ACDS program are listed below.

Section I

The following documents are required and need to be included the front of your portfolio and in the exact order listed:

  • Table of Contents
    This is a list of all the required items you are putting into your portfolio. It should list the items in EXACT order. If you rearrange things, revise the table of contents.
  • DOL Apprenticeship Agreement (Form 3)
    This form is sent to your employer. It is not the one that you might have received at orientation marked "Sample".
  • WV STARS Registry Certificate
    If you only have the letter and are waiting on your certificate, use that for the time being. Replace your acceptance letter once you receive your official certificate.
  • Supervisor's Evaluation (Forms 12.1 - 12.4)
    You will have one of these completed and signed by your supervisor for each semester.
  • OJT Logs (Form 13)
    You are to fill these out monthly. Make one copy for your portfolio, one copy for your supervisor, and one copy for your instructor. These need to be put in order in your portfolio. It is recommended that you make an extra set just in case. Without this key documentation of your on-the-job-training hours, you WILL NOT receive your DOL certificate at the end of fourth semester.
  • Signed Course Completion Certificate With Seal
    At the end of your first semester, your instructor will give you a signed certificate with a blue seal. At the end of your second semester, your next instructor will sign it and provide a red seal. At the end of third semester, your instructor will sign it and provide a silver seal. At the end of fourth semester, you will receive a final certificate indicating you have completed all four semesters. This one will be signed by the ACDS State Coordinator and will have a gold seal. This is not your DOL certificate. This is simply showing that you have graduated from ACDS.
  • Guidelines for Conduct and Confidentiality (Form 11)
    You will receive one of these for each semester. Put all in the portfolio.
  • Site Visit Form (Form 28)
    This is to be completed by your second semester instructor. If, in the rare case, your site visit has not been completed by the end of fourth semester, your graduation certificate can be held up.
  • Grade Sheet (Form 29)
    You will receive this at the end of first semester. Each instructor thereafter will fill it out for the remaining semesters.
  • Resume
    This needs to be prepared by the end of your second semester. Ask your instructor or another professional for advice. There are also books and tips online for preparing resumes.
  • Early Childhood Philosophy
    This is an essay reflecting your views on how young children learn best. This needs to be completed by fourth semester.

Section II

This is your work sample section. Include these items in the following order:

  • Portfolio Record (Forms 14.1 - 14.4)
  • Course Outline.
    This is provided to you by your instructor for each semester. It is also available on the website. Some instructors put the course outline in their syllabus. It is preferred that you use the actual course outline created by ACDS. Future employers only need to know what you studied each semester, not the other information in the syllabus.
  • Journal Assignments
    While you are in the program, you will want to include a sample for each semester. Once you have completed the program, you have the option of leaving your best from each semester or selecting your best overall. Keep in mind that typed work that has been proofread for errors looks far more professional.
  • Readers Card Assignments
    Same as above.
  • Lab Assignments
    Same as above.
  • Tests
    Same as above.
  • Projects
    Same as above.
  • Other Items That "Make You Shine As A Professional"
    This section is up to you. This might include a list of your professional memberships, such as NAEYC, National Head Start Association, etc. It could also include certificates from other trainings that you have attended. It could include a list of professional journals that you subscribe to. Here is where you include special projects that you have done at work, pictures, etc.

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As with the ACDS program overall, what you put into it is what you will get out of it. The amount of time and work that you put into creating your portfolio is up to you. Keep in mind that if you are using it as a tool to interview for a job, not every potential employer is going to take the time to go through everything that you have put into your portfolio. Some may be put off by it if you have too much in there and go overboard on the decorations. Neatness and simplicity are key. Keep in mind the more professional you make it appear, the more professional you will appear to others.

ACDS is offering a one-hour, WVSTARS approved portfolio training for local councils. Call the ACDS State Coordinator, 304-523-0433, for more information.