It’s “test month” for my grandkids. Max is about to take his SATs for college, while Maddie, Miles and Henry will soon take other standardized timed tests given annually in middle and elementary schools. Recently, I read an article in a parenting magazine that offered advice to moms and dads about these tests. Talk about pressure!
“Make sure your child gets enough sleep the night before the test!” “Optimize her brain power the day of the test with a good breakfast!” “Don’t be afraid to offer him strategies on how to take a timed standardized test.” Good advice, for sure.
But far better advice came in a letter that Miles’ fifth grade teacher read to his class in P.S. 6 in New York City. The teacher also emailed the letter to the students’ parents, and my daughter-in-law Jennifer shared it with me.
Here it is:
“Dearest Students, This week you will take your ELA test, and a month after that you will take your Math test. I know how hard you have worked but there is something very important that you must know.
The State tests do not assess all of what makes you special and unique. The people who create these tests and score them do not know each of you like I do, and certainly not the way your families do.
They do not know that some of you speak two languages, or that you love to sing or draw. They have not seen your natural talent for dancing. They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them, that your laughter can brighten the darkest day, or that your face turns red when you feel shy. They do not know that you participate in sports, wonder about the future, or sometimes you help with your little brother or little sister after school They do not know that you are kind, trustworthy and thoughtful — and every day you try your very best.
The scores you will get from these tests will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything. These tests do not define you. There are many ways of being smart. YOU are smart! YOU are enough! YOU are the light that brightens my day and the reason I am happy to come to work each day. So in the midst of all of these tests, remember that there is no way to ‘test’ all of the amazing and awesome things that make you YOU.
All I ask is that you do your personal best and do not give up. You have been working for this since Kindergarten and you are ready. I believe in you.”
I nominate that teacher for Secretary of Education!