In most states, schools are just wrapping up their year-end testing. Everyone is exhausted with the effort – kids more than anyone.

Earlier this week, across the nation we saw a video of what looked like a young teacher beating a 13 year old in a classroom in Texas. This morning we heard an apology from a very articulate first year teacher who had already apologized to the child and his mother. She took full responsibility for the fact that she had lost it and acted inappropriately.

However, as she gave the news interviewer a description of the conditions in that school and the events that had preceded her outburst, she gave a very grim picture of the school and mentioned that the school had just finished their TAKS testing. This was one of the factors cited as a contributing factor to the events that morning.

I only highlight this to remind everyone that the year-end tests are only one measure (and not a very well-developed one at that) of how well our students are doing. These tests are a single snapshot and irrelevant unless we are using multiple measures to provide us a continuous thread of feedback about the progress students are making and help us identify where we need to be teaching differently to meet their needs.

It’s only in situations where so much emphasis is placed on a single measure, resulting in potentially dire consequences, where taking a test could be part of a picture of overall irresponsibility in caring for and educating our children. Preparing teachers and supporting teachers in analyzing student work, student expositions, and workshop presentations for their classroom creates a culture of LEARNING – what we should all be doing continuously.