Monday, November 14, 2016

Take a Deep Breath

Dear Michael,

Tomorrow the third graders in your school, including you, will take your first "high stakes" standardized test. It is part of a requirement in our state. Third graders will take the test this fall and have another opportunity to take it in the spring because students must pass before they advance to the fourth grade. Well, it's a little more complicated than that, but that's the gist of it.

Even though Dad, myself, and your teacher think you'll do just fine on the test you are very, very worried about it. You've been talking about this test for a couple of weeks and tonight you were anxious to the point of crying about it.

I wish there was something we could say or do that would help you relax, but I know there probably isn't.

I think these tests put schools in a difficult position, there's a lot of pressure for schools to perform well and they need students to take the test seriously. The result is that it gets communicated to the students as being a very big deal. Dad and I may have added to the pressure without meaning to. We've reminded you to take your time (you tend to rush) and to read directions carefully (again, you tend to rush), and then to do your best.

It's a little early in the game to know what kind of test-taker you'll be as you get older, but we already have some evidence that these kinds of standardized tests may not be the best way for you, personally, to show what you know. These sorts of things come more easily to some students than others.

But here's what Daddy and I (and I bet your wonderful teacher, too) really want you to know:

We love you. We love you for who you are and what you are capable of. You are more than the grades on your report card. You are so much more than the score of one test. You are your enthusiasm for baseball. You are your kindness to the children around you. You are the love you have for your family. You are all of this and so, so much more. No matter what happens on that test, we love you and we're proud of you. There's no number in the world that can change that.


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