It is not unusual to enter a school in New Zealand or internationally and discover that student portfolios are part of the work programme. Research indicates that the value of student portfolios varies considerably. Too often the purpose of a portfolio programme and the roles expected of different school community members, such as school leaders, teachers, support staff, students, and family members, are neither clearly established nor shared. This article provides examples from practice to advance understanding about the issues involved. It concludes with recommendations to help schools ensure that, if portfolios are to be part of their work programme, they are developed collaboratively and with a clear purpose in mind.