The Project Construct assessment system is based on the belief that progress can be measured more accurately by developmentally appropriate, performance-based assessment methods that are aligned with current views of curriculum and take into account the ways in which young children learn, rather than with standardized paper-and-pencil, multiple-choice achievement and readiness tests. The assessments are consistent with the guidelines for developmentally appropriate assessment of young children (Copple & Bredekamp, 2009; Katz, 1997; National Association for the Education of Young Children & National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education, 2003; Shepard, Kagan, & Wurtz, 1998) and with the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing (American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, & National Council on Measurement in Education, 1999).
Based on the overarching principle that assessment should be an integral part of instruction, the Formative Assessment Program reflects three main beliefs: (1) assessment activities should mirror good instructional strategies, (2) assessment criteria should be aligned with learning objective, and (3) assessment results should be used to shape instruction. The system allows teachers to weave a seamless fabric of standards, instruction, and assessment.
Of course, in today’s world of high-stakes, high-pressure assessment, many teachers are required to go beyond the rich formative assessment practices described here and administer one or more large-scale, standardized summative assessments, whether they agree with the validity and usefulness of such assessments or not. However, for those seeking an extra layer of assessment feedback but who are not required to administer a summative assessment, there are other, more developmentally-appropriate options.
The Project Construct assessment approach “is based on the belief that progress can be measured more accurately by developmentally appropriate, performance-based assessment methods that are aligned with current views of curriculum and take into account the ways in which young children learn, rather than with standardized paper-and-pencil, multiple-choice achievement and readiness tests.”
The goal of any good assessment system should be to provide on-going, flexible, robust feedback to teachers, administrators, and families of children in the educational program—feedback that can then be used to quickly adjust instructional goals and practices in order to help children be successful learners across all domains. Large-scale summative evaluation tools simply cannot achieve this goal.
Nevertheless, in the current educational climate where high-stakes testing and “accountability” are the common buzz-words, it is understood that program administrators and teachers might feel the need to add other layers of assessment on top of the formative assessment system proposed in this framework. While Project Construct does not recommend any large-scale summative assessment tool for use in Project Construct classrooms, there are some good, criterion-referenced observational assessment tools available that might exist comfortably in the classroom alongside the Project Construct framework for curriculum, instruction, and assessment and provide an extra measure of feedback to stakeholders who wish it.