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What is a Cadet Portfolio?

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Military cadet programs exist to help train students or youth members a range of important life skills, often in a martial context. They do so to encourage leadership skills, creative and practical thinking, and give them life experience. 

A cadet’s program can encompass many different training courses depending on the country they’re part of. For some, it’s a method to prepare junior officers as they undergo their full-time college education and wait to commission at a later date. In others, cadet programs refer to the youth club organizations designed to inspire and prepare the potential military recruits of tomorrow.

No matter what level of cadet program you or your child is part of, a “cadet portfolio” will be created for them. This will serve as a private collection of achievements, results and accreditations secured within that program, serving as a contributive assessment of their pre-military record.

What does a cadet portfolio include?

A cadet portfolio will include many different documents relating to the performance of a cadet as they move through the training. This can include but isn’t limited to: 

  • Fitness scores and areas in need of physical improvement.
  • Leadership results, such as ROTC or JROTC programs, and information about initiatives taken, like community volunteering.
  • Professional development and test scores – this could include psychometric testing results and how well each module of training has been concluded. Training personnel use this information to highlight areas of improvement needed.
  • Notes from training staff – this can include any personal insights or disciplinary measures undertaken.

A cadet portfolio will not include information about a cadet’s medical records, or information about injuries or their time in the infirmary, as this is considered highly confidential information provided to appropriate personnel through secure channels.

What purpose does a cadet portfolio include?

Cadets can be involved in multiple training modules and may be trained by several different service personnel. A unifying portfolio that keeps track of all training information related to a particular cadet can help show progress in their improvement.

The following can differ depending on the specific policies of the particular military branch and program within which the cadet is being trained, but for the most part, cadet portfolios aren’t necessarily part of a full-time military record if crafted as part of a youth program. 

In office training schools, however, it can be relevant, or it can be used if a prior youth cadets member decides to apply for full-time or reservist service, it may be reviewed and included as part of their permanent record.

What are the benefits of using a cadet portfolio?

There are several reasons cadet organizations keep a portfolio of each individual member. A portfolio can serve as a uniform record of their membership, contributions, and progress within that training program, which can help grade cadets on an individual level.

A cadet portfolio is also a clear-cut record of the strengths and weaknesses a particular cadet may offer, which gives training staff a clear understanding of where there focus should be. This feedback can be shared with the cadet, enabling them to work on those smaller weak points.

Are there any weaknesses to a cadet portfolio?

A cadet portfolio is a matter of record, uniformly applied with notes and specific dates, activities undertaken and their results. As such, they may not be the perfect resource for understanding the full potential of a cadet, nor might they levy truly nuanced information to each training staff member.

Despite that, cadet portfolios are far and away the best record to evaluate cadet progress, be that as part of an officer training program or simply a youth member’s involvement in their local cadet program. They are clear about areas of improvement, and can serve as a basic, standardized resource that helps grade and compare recruits. When cadets are rated and their actions are recorded to the same criteria, a uniform force can develop, despite cadets progressing at different rates over time.

How is a cadet portfolio actually recorded?

This can depend on the cadet organization, but most often a cadet portfolio will include personal information, academic and military records, notes on leadership experience, personal notes from training staff, information about voluntary and community work, and more.

It may also include transcripts from conversations or certifications and qualifications that have been undertaken in a military setting. This information is collected via a range of documents and kept secure, usually only available to the training staff and sometimes the cadet themselves. In this way, a cadet portfolio serves all parties involved.