By Brad McQueen
The state of Arizona still does not have a statewide assessment to test the new Common Core standards, but since 2011 it has had an assessment/data gathering machine in place, courtesy of the private company TS Gold , to gather personal emotional/social data on your child from birth to kindergarten if they attended an Arizona Department of Education affiliated preschool/daycare center.
According to their own website, (TS) “Teaching Strategies GOLD® is currently the most widely used early childhood assessment system in the country. It is being used to assess the knowledge, skills, and behaviors of nearly 1.1 million children annually in programs from birth through kindergarten.” Michelle Malkin broke this story last week with her comprehensive column at Townhall.com .
The AZ Dept of Ed is busy using data collection to make sure that none of our preschoolers are moving toward “deviancy” apparently. This includes non-public daycare/preschool such as faith based operations.
This is a quote from the AZ Department of Education’s Early Childhood Education guidelines :
“Quality early education helps prepare young children for success in school and later in life. Early learning experiences that help build resilience, social skills, and the ability to keep learning have current and future social and economic benefits for everyone – children, families, employers, and society as a whole. The success with which young children establish relationships with others will affect whether they will walk pathways to competence or deviance as they move into the middle childhood and adolescent years.”
They continue on to explain that,
“Assessment practices should involve multiple observations, and should involve multiple ‘informants’ such as paraprofessionals, therapists, and family members…Additional documentation tools include: Checklists, participation lists, frequency counts, running records, rating scales, time sampling, behavior”
And the Dept of Education includes a final admonishment:
“In order for the State of Arizona to verify data for federal reporting, all districts and programs under ADE’s license in GOLD are required to enter documentation online. Maintaining only hard copies of observations and documentation is not permitted.”
Everything must be entered online, that way a paper trail will not exist should parents ask to view any of the data collected on their children.
Parents may inadvertently be supplying information to these data gathers as the Dept of Education further suggests this type of data gathering:
“Information elicited from parents about their child’s experiences at home is included in the assessment process. Methods for gathering and documenting information received from families may include: child information surveys, daily communications or formal conferences, inventories and/or interviews, etc.”
One type of evidence mandated to be documented online includes photographs of children’s artwork where teachers are reminded to be sure to “include a brief statement about the child’s work (i.e. what the child said about the work…)”. So if little Susie draws a picture containing a gun, did she mention the family has guns at home? If so how many?
Another type of evidence that may be documented online to TS Gold and the Department of Education are anecdotal notes, which “are short, objective, factual notes about what you hear and see.” As a teacher, I hear way too much about my students’ family life. This type of documentation begins to also pull the student family’s data into the child’s data stream.
How will teachers actually enter all this data? The AZ Department of Education started the Gold Nuggets Newsletter (Get it? TS Gold…nuggets?) to share best practices among teachers selected at random from the uploaded data.
Take a look at this September 2014 newsletter entry where a “teacher” provides some data gathering advice to her fellow data gatherers:
“The most important thing about TSG(TS Gold data gathering) is to stay on top of it! Pick one day each week to enter any observations and documentation so it does not pile up! Keep something handy every day – a notepad, sticky notes or use the APP for TSG so anytime you see something worth documenting you are prepared. I wear an apron so I always have a pen, something to write with or even my cell phone to catch those moments. Also ask you aides to write everything down. You can enter it into TSG and indicate that it was someone other than yourself that made the observation which is great for getting a well-rounded picture of your students”
According to a 2013 press release, the private company TS Gold has plans to expand their assessments/data gathering of your child’s social and emotional data up through 3rd grade using photos, as well as video and audio clips uploaded to TS Gold data clouds which are then shared with the Dept of Education which then transfers it to the U.S. Department of Education. They have been field testing assessments over the last year.
TS Gold’s website brags about being Common Core aligned and it is definitely aligned with Common Core’s NSA-like data suctioning systems adding another stream of data collection to your child’s longitudinal data stream.
In July 2014, the AZ Department of Education awarded the contract to manage our K-12, NSA-like longitudinal data suctioning systems to the data company Edupoint, fully implementing the Common Core data collection from preschool to 12th grade as mandated by the Common Core overlords.
TS Gold creates and maintains a “portfolio” on your child that is passed on to their kindergarten teachers. If you are a parent with a child in preschool, you may want to ask to see the data being gathered on your child and perhaps see your child’s portfolio. Oh wait…the FERPA education privacy regulations were changed by the Obama administration so that they don’t need to notify you of data collection and sharing with the private company TS Gold, and your permission is no longer required.
The Common Core data gathering stream is now in full force in Arizona beginning in preschool from birth to kindergarten and continuing up through high school. I believe a call to the AZ Department of Education is in order not to mention a call to the candidates for AZ governor.
Brad McQueen is a former Common Core insider and current public school teacher in Tucson, Arizona and is the author of the anti-Common Core book “The Cult of Common Core”. Connect with Brad at firstname.lastname@example.org