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Florida school teachers don’t like tests…and this poignant letter explains why

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So as the spring season rapidly evolves, it’s standardised testing time in the USA, and high levels of stress are building on the shoulders of students and teachers alike.

Kids are under intense pressure to perform well, brainwashed into believing a grade from a test is a true measure of their intelligence. The fact some subjects are valued far more than others, with subjective disciplines like art and music deemed less valuable than the likes of maths or science, has left parents reeling. And teachers are incredibly frustrated that the quality of their teaching is marked by a single performance on a test.

After all, a test is really just regurgitation of thing’s you’ve been told, right?

But while many believe the system that’s teaching our children is flawed, Upworthy has found a group of truly inspiring teachers who know how to put things into perspective.

For the teachers of Blue Lake Elementary School in Volusia County, Florida, it’s incredibly important that their students understand that a grade is really nothing more than a number – and in no way does that number determine their worth.

The third-grade teachers felt so passionately about it, they came together to write a letter that was sent home with each third-grade student.

Aleshia Crimmons, whose son Christian is in Rhonda Sylvia’s third-grade class, told Upworthy she was brought to tears upon reading the touching letter, and posted it to her Facebook profile:

The letter reads as follows: “My dearest students, This week you will take your Florida State Assessment (FSA) for Reading and Math. I know how hard you have worked, but there is something important that you must know:

The FSA does not assess all of what makes each of you special and unique. The people who create these tests and score them do not know each of you the way 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 paint a picture. They have not seen your natural and beautiful talent for dancing. They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them, that your laughter can brighten the dreariest day, or that your face turns red when you feel shy. They have not heard you tell differences between a King Cobra and a Rattler. They do not know that you 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 despite dealing with bad circumstances, you still come to school with a smile. They do not know that you can tell a great story or that you really love spending time (baking, hunting, mudding, fishing, shopping…) 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 will get from this test will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything. There are many ways of being smart. You are smart! You are enough! You are the light that brightens my day! So while you are preparing for this test and while you are in the midst of it all, remember that there is no way to ‘test’ all the amazing and awesome things that make you YOU!”

Crimmons told Upworthy that she wasn’t surprised upon reading the letter because she already knew Blue Lake’s teachers were “the best” – but that didn’t make it any less impressive!

“We have some amazing kids who need to know and hear everything that was written,” she told Upworthy. “Kids need to know that they’re different, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them. We need to teach them to be understanding of each other’s differences. That is what makes all of us great.”

Katie Sluiter, an eighth-grade English teacher at a Michigan-based school also expressed disdain for the system, telling Upworthy: “I hate standardised tests.

“I don’t see my students as test scores at all. [Standardised tests] are just hoops. Hoops we jump through each spring rather than doing what we should be doing: reading and talking about reading.

“Kids get very stressed because they don’t want to let the district down. They feel that if they’re scores aren’t ‘good enough’, their teachers will be the ones to suffer (which is right), and that is a lot for those little shoulders,” she concludes.

“I want my students to know I love them no matter what happens that week of testing. It’s OK. Really.”

All of us at Study International would like to thank teachers at Blue Lake School for speaking the truth, and the staff at Upworthy for spreading the word. All children are beautiful, talented, unique and intelligent, regardless of their latest test score.

Image via Flickr.

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