The Valeska Hinton Early Childhood Education Center, in Peoria, Illinois, was designed to involve children, families, and staff in a spirit of community. The school facility is, in fact, designed in four sections, each of which constitutes a "village" for children. (See the Critical Issue "Organizing for Effective Early Childhood Programs and Practices.")
To complement the developmentally appropriate curriculum, the center has adopted the Work Sampling System (Meisels, 1992), a comprehensive assessment system for children in preschool through third grade. The system consists of three components:
Studying samples of children's work collected for the portfolios, teachers have worked together on developmental continua in the various domains. Parents are encouraged to keep parallel portfolios of their own observations of their children and examples of work the child do at home. Staff members offer portfolio workshops to help parents develop those collections and interpret their meaning.