By Laura Barrett
D o not go for the GOLD,” advises Colorado education blogger Peggy Robertson, referring to the Teaching
Strategies GOLD assessment that many schools
across the nation are now using.
Closer to home, many districts in the
Commonwealth are using TS GOLD to meet the
Massachusetts Kindergarten Entry Assessment
mandate — and members are asking for the
MTA’s help in fighting it.
Betsy Edes of the Department of Early
Education and Care explained that the MKEA
grant received by the state requires districts that
receive Quality Full-Day Kindergarten grants to
administer the assessments through the 2015-16
school year. Her agency and the Department
of Elementary and Secondary Education are in
the process of deciding whether to continue the
mandate beyond that time, she said. Districts
would have to pay for it themselves once the
grant funds ran out.
Local associations whose members want to
end the mandate should work with their MTA
field representatives to develop a plan. Options
include the following:
n Organize a meeting with kindergarten
and preschool teachers to let them share their
n Set up a meeting at which teachers
can tell the district superintendent and other
administrators about their concerns. Bring along
Somerville Teachers Association President
Jackie Lawrence took notes during a
meeting with preschool and kindergarten
teachers on the MKEA mandate.
the hefty TS GOLD manual to show them just
what the assessment entails.
n Have the association invite parents whose
children are being assessed to a meeting to learn
n If parents want to take action, such as opting
their children out of the assessment, make sure a
representative of the union is there to explain how
that would work.
n Ask concerned residents to testify at a
school committee meeting. Consider asking the
school committee to pass a resolution calling for
an end to the mandate.
n Urge members to contact state policymakers
about this issue, both on their own and through
n Bring the issue to the bargaining table.
n Contact other locals organizing around
the issue and generate regional messaging and
Several locals have already begun this
organizing work, including the Somerville
“We’ve given them opportunities to talk to
colleagues and then with the superintendent. Now
we’ve got a parent meeting scheduled,” said
Jackie Lawrence, president of the STA. “It has
been empowering for our members.”
For more information, please visit
www.massteacher.org/mkea. Updates and
organizing materials will be posted as they
‘We’ve given them opportunities to
talk to colleagues and then with the
superintendent. Now we’ve got a
parent meeting scheduled.’
— STA President Jackie Lawrence
Data entry and use of time are among teachers’ key concerns
Initially, two assessments — one called the Work
Sampling System and the other TS GOLD — were
offered. All but six of the 171 districts participating
this year are using TS GOLD.
Another cohort will be added next year, the fourth
year of the rollout.
Betsy Edes, early childhood education
coordinator for the DEEC, said that her agency
and the DESE have heard some concerns about the
program, but also have heard positive feedback,
mainly from administrators.
The MTA brought members’ concerns to the
early education department more than a year ago.
In response, the state received permission from the
federal government to reduce the number of domains
assessed from 10 to two for the current school year,
along with other changes. Next year, however, the
number is supposed to go back up to 10.
The two areas now being assessed are called
“Social-Emotional” and “Cognition,” each of
which has nine or 10 “objectives” that must be
assessed, generally on a scale of 0 (not yet) to 10
(meaning the child exceeds expectations for the
Continued from previous page
as two objectives. The ratings are entered at two
checkpoints a year. The first was on Nov. 7, 2014,
and the next will be on June 5.
The program describes types of behavior falling
into ratings 1 through 8.
For example, under the objective “follows limits
and expectations,” a behavior that would support
a rating of 2 might be “responds to changes in an
adult’s tone of voice and expression.” Teachers
say it is mind-boggling to rate and collect so much
documentation. If the number of domains rises to 10
next year, as scheduled, each child will have to be
rated on 66 objectives twice a year.
Brockton teachers were among the first to begin
organizing locally in Massachusetts to address
In October, 59 of the district’s 70 kindergarten
teachers turned out for an after-school meeting called
by the Brockton Education Association.
DeeAnndra Hurte-Jones was one of them.
“It took me six hours just to input the rating
checkpoints,” she said, “and that doesn’t
even include all the time spent in observation
and collection of data. It takes time away
from kids. It takes time away from teaching.
It takes time away from family at home. And
“I have a child going into kindergarten next fall,
and as a parent I am upset about this,” Hurte-Jones
continued. “I don’t want all of this assessing to be
interfering with his learning.”
The Brockton teachers then met with district
administrators, who shared their concerns and told
them they did not have to upload photos and videos.
The MTA brought members’ concerns
to the early education department
more than a year ago. In response,
the state received permission from
the federal government to reduce the
number of domains assessed from
10 to two for the current school year,
along with other changes. Next year,
however, the number is supposed to
go back up to 10.
Photo by Laura Barrett