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“There Are Many Ways of Being Smart”: U.K. School Sends Inspiring Note to Students

 

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Tell me you know someone who says they enjoyed taking standardized tests as a kid and I’ll show you a lovely bridge in Brooklyn that’s for sale.

Standardized tests are the worst. When I was little, I did OK in school, but not on those tests. The pressure to perform well in a short period of time while hunched over a cheap paper booklet and answering confusing questions with those little golf pencils? I hated it all, especially the results. I might have aced every other test I was ever given, but the standardized tests? I bombed ’em every time. Getting the test scores was nothing short of doomsday for me, each and every time.

Not much has changed in the time that’s passed since I last took a standardized test. I repeat: Nothing has changed.

Well, maybe something has changed somewhere. Kids at the Barrowford Primary School in the U.K. might just be the only kids on the planet not to side with me about the dread that accompanies receiving standardized test scores. That’s because when their school recently sent out the results for an exam called KS2, which is designed to measure math, reading, spelling, punctuation, and grammar abilities, along with the scores for each student was a letter from the faculty, according to Today.

“These tests do not always assess all of what it is that make each of you special and unique,” the letter reads, in part. “The people who create these tests and score them do not know each of you the way your teachers do, the way I hope to and certainly not the way your families do . . . The scores you get will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything.”

It’s so positive and lovely that this letter acknowledges that being smart can look different on different kids. Not everyone’s strength is — or should be — performing well under pressure. Being kind, working hard, and simply trying is what younger children should be learning, not anxiety from those whose task is to help mold their minds.

To be sure, the school isn’t trying to downplay the significance of standardized tests entirely, with one teacher there telling the BBC: “We never give pupils the message that academic attainment isn’t important — what we do is celebrate that we send really independent, confident, articulate learners on to the next stage of their school career.”

How fortunate for the students at the Barrowford Primary School that the lessons they’re learning at such a formative time in their development are helping them read and write, yes, but also strengthen and encourage their individual characters.

Here’s the entire text of the letter:

Please find enclosed your end of KS2 test results. We are very proud of you as you demonstrated huge amounts of commitment and tried your very best during this tricky week.

However, we are concerned that these tests do not always assess all of what it is that make each of you special and unique. The people who create these tests and score them do not know each of you… the way your teachers do, the way I hope to, and certainly not the way your families do.

They do not know that many of you speak two languages. They do not know that you can play a musical instrument or that you can dance or paint a picture.

They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them or that your laughter can brighten the dreariest day. They do not know that you write poetry or songs, play or participate in sports, wonder about the future, or that sometimes you take care of your little brother or sister after school.

They do not know that you have travelled to a really neat place or that you know how to tell a great story or that you really love spending time with special family members and friends.

They do not know that you can be trustworthy, kind or thoughtful, and that you try, every day, to be your very best… the scores you get will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything.

So enjoy your results and be very proud of these but remember there are many ways of being smart.

 

Photo courtesy of Facebook

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Follow Meredith on Twitter and check out her regular column on the op-ed page of The Denver Post at MeredithCarroll.com

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