A tough critique of Teaching Strategies GOLD

Here is another excellent example of a teacher pushing back against corporate ed reform! Please check out the blog “Peg with Pen” – written by Peg Robinson, an early childhood teacher and activist in Colorado. In her post Do Not Go for the GOLD (Teaching Strategies GOLD) for Early Childhood Classrooms, Peg expertly describes all the problems around this newly-mandated assessment system: the thousands of minute data points she is required to enter in to the system; the uploading of personal information on each child that has the potential of being shared; the time and cost; the way GOLD transforms the teacher into a data manager; and more. Here are a few snippets, to get you started (and I urge you to read the post in its entirety):

“GOLD claims to assess the whole child for preschool and kindergarten on a developmental continuum starting at birth and ending at age five. It assesses Social-Emotional, Physical, Language, Cognitive, Literacy, Mathematics, Science & Technology, Social Studies, The Arts, and English Language Acquisition. Teaching Strategies GOLD offers lessons, opportunities for families to participate and much more. It will soon expand to include first through third grade. It is aligned with common core. It has been around since 1988. I want to state that it most likely was created with good intentions, however, it has morphed into something that screams corporate education reform.
 
GOLD is mandated to be used by all publicly funded preschools and kindergartens in Colorado. It is used in many other states as well, but my knowledge is based on Colorado, as my home state. Most Colorado districts are piloting it this year, and it will reach full implementation in the 2014-2015 school year.  Currently, it is paid for in part by a RTTT federal grant, but this money will run out shortly.”
—–
“GOLD is not ‘bad’ in the sense that it is assessing things it shouldn’t assess. Its danger, and the reason for parents to refuse it, lies in how it intrudes, erases, robs, and reshapes student learning, teacher instruction and the culture of public schools.
 
We must take into account the extreme detail of this system.  GOLD does not just share a number. It shares very detailed, very personal information about children. Now, some might say that the data is NOT being shared. That’s fine. But my response is this – when data is uploaded to a system it is guaranteed that it is uploaded in order to share it more easily with others. Much of the GOLD data is information that previously was shared privately with the parents and key adults within the individual school community.”
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To parents, Robertson writes:
“REFUSE the GOLD.  It will rob your child’s teacher and your child of precious time. Even if your child’s teacher enters GOLD data when your child is not at school, it has stilled robbed your child of what his/her teacher would have done with that planning time previous to serving as a data manager for the corporations.  Finally, protect your child’s privacy. Your child is now a data generator and your child’s teacher is a data manager – refuse GOLD and they can relinquish those roles.
 
I am not a data manager. I am a teacher. I am an excellent kindergarten teacher. And I will not be subjected to such insanity involving thousands of data points coupled with detailed information about students – all housed online to benefit the corporate regime we now have in place.
 
I don’t trust the GOLD. At first glance, it appears innocent. I am sure that many involved in GOLD have very good intentions – I have no doubt about that. In reality, GOLD is the future of public education in which teacher as data manager will gather detailed information about children and dutifully upload all of it to serve the corporations. I fear for our children and how this information will follow them through out their lives while narrowing and controlling their learning opportunities and eventually their careers as adults. GOLD is one more piece which lends itself to the destruction of our democracy while appearing to support learners and teachers.”
Robertson also has drafted a letter for parents who want to opt out of the Teaching Strategies GOLD assessment system. Check out the template for the opt out letter here. Are you required to use the Teaching Strategies GOLD assessment? How are you dealing with it?

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