Tests Gone Wild!

Governor Snyder and the Michigan Department of Education obsession with high-stakes testing has reached a new low with the Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA).   From the MDE website,

Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA)

Michigan’s Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA) is an authentic observational system (provided by Teaching Strategies GOLD) for assessing children in the first 45 days of kindergarten.

Let’s read that again:  “assessing children in the first 45 days of kindergarten.”   Good grief!  In the first 45 days of school, they haven’t learned anything yet!   But why let learning get in the way of testing!  The assessments are “observational” conducted by teachers and recorded in an online system operated by Teaching Strategies.

What does the MDE want teachers to assess?

  • Mathematics
  • Literacy
  • Language
  • Approaches Toward Learning/Cognitive
  • Social and Emotional Development
  • Physical and Motor Development

What do they mean when they say “Approaches Toward Learning/Cognitive” and  “Social and Emotional Development?”   A look at the Example of Kindergarten Entrance Assessment Individual Student Report PDF provided by the MDE shows that they will assess how well they “persist” and  “manage their feelings” and if they “take care of their own needs appropriately” and “forms relationships with adults.”  Kindergarten is a huge transition for young children and we’re going to assess how they manage their feelings?  Teachers should be helping in the transition not assessing and recording!

What is the purpose of all of this?

DATA to predict success according to the Common Core.  From the Teaching Strategies Gold website,

Helps Early Educators Focus on What Matters Most

Teaching Strategies GOLD can be used with any developmentally appropriate early childhood curriculum and is based on 38 research-based objectives that include predictors of school success and are aligned with the Common Core State Standards, state early learning guidelines, and the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework. These help teachers focus on what matters most for children’s success.

But I thought Common Core was just math and ELA?  What does assessing a child’s feelings have to do with Common Core standards?   We learn more from the MDE website,

The KEA is an assessment that allows teachers to look closely at student skills and behaviors to get a picture of the whole child. It focuses on collecting and documenting information that is most important in predicting future school success. It evaluates student skills and behaviors along a continuum of learning progressions for each item assessed. It helps teachers use data to inform their instruction and determine intervention strategies that will increase their students’ learning trajectories. Its use allows teachers to generate parent reports that include helpful activities for parents to use at home that are directly tied to the student’s instructional needs.

This is the beginning of the data collection to track children and direct their future.  The Early Childhod Data Collaborative is guiding the development the data system.   And who knows if the data is safe and their privacy protected!   The data system will be linked with other data systems.   Fundamental 4 states,

Ability to link child-level data with K-12 and other key data systems

Linking child-level data with K–12 and other key data systems allows policymakers to track the progress of children over time as well as better understand relationships among ECE programs and other child development programs and services. For example, linked data systems can provide two-way communications between ECE programs and K–12 so that ECE programs know how children progress in K–12 and K–12 programs can tailor instruction to meet individual children’s needs when they arrive at school.

Where did the idea and the money come from for the KEA?    The Early Learning Challenge Collaborative reveals that The Race to the Top Early Leanring Challenge played an important role.     Money to increase federal control of early learning education,  not the best interst of children is the motivation for KEA.  Michigan received $51,737,456.   Governor Snyder called this a “victory for Michigan children.”

“The future is brighter for Michigan’s children because of the work here by Mike Flanagan and Susan Broman, Snyder said. “It’s encouraging to see their hard work and vision recognized by the federal government.”

Governor Snyder and the MDE have sold the kindergarten classroom to the federal government.

The KEA pilots tests are scheduled for the Fall of 2014.  The field test window is September 2 through October 31, 2014.

Parents OPT-OUT!    It’s time to stop the testing obsession and get back to real education!