Let’s face it; standardized tests are stressful and frustrating for anyone, but especially for kids who are often made to believe these tests truly determine their intelligence.
Teachers at Harmony Hill School in Antrim, Northern Ireland sent motivational letters to students before giving out the scores to their transfer tests — which are similar to the SATs — and determine what high school students will be eligible for.
The letter has gone viral since a copy of it was posted on Facebook by the neighboring Carrickfergus Grammar School Music Society.
The letter assured students that even if their scores were not what they expected, they should not be ashamed and should know that their teachers will not be disappointed in them if they fall short.
"Unfortunately, in life, things don't always work out the way we want them to, and it can take a little time to sort out the feelings and thoughts we have when that happens," it read. "We know that each one of you has worked very hard and with a great attitude. No score can ever take that away from you."
Students, the letter continued, should stand tough against any obstacles that may come their way. "Don't give up easily when the going gets tough."
That may be a cliché, but it’s one that is easy to forget in the face of adversity. The letter also encourages students to always maintain positive attitudes.
“… We believe that your attitude and who you are as a person is much more important than any mark on a test.”
School principal Harry Greer reportedly told BBC they weren’t expecting the letter to receive so much attention. “We've been really surprised by all the attention," he said. "We just wanted them to know that we were thinking of them today. It can be a time of great excitement, but for some children, it can be a time of great disappointment."
Greer is absolutely right: students literally lose sleep due to the amount of anxiety and fear they experience in anticipation of test scores.
On the home front, a study published by the Washington Post last October indicated that standardized testing in the U.S. is overwhelming the nation’s public school students.
“A typical student takes 112 mandated standardized tests between pre-kindergarten classes and 12th grade,” according to the Council of the Great City Schools study.
In 2015, President Barack Obama pledged to take steps to reduce testing overload for students as well as educators who say that the pressure to teach to a test takes the joy out of teaching and learning.
Well, some of that pressure can be alleviated by taking notes from Harmony Hill and assuring students that these tests are not “life or death.”
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Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Max Rossi