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Beyond Test Scores: A UK School's Viral Letter to Students

Mike Maravilla,


Virality is quite a popular term nowadays, but it seems that alongside its growth in celebredom, came an unexpected influx of cat videos and memes—certainly nothing worth sharing in our schools. Sure, there are some classroom-friendly, inspirational stories that make their way to our kids at times, but in general it seems like the sunny side of education has fallen silent, buried beneath a more public slab of constant criticism, ever-present standardization attempts, and an almost nauseating amount of assessments.

Indeed, watching current major news outlets report on the state of education may send our nation’s unsung heroes (and the students they teach) into a pseudo-“Learned Helplessness” flat-spin. Until now.

A viral letter written by Rachel Tomlinson, a Barrowford Primary School teacher in the UK, helps refill the brimming school optimism that has gone awry. Penned amidst handing out their most recent formative assessment results, it’s a reminder to students that they are more than just their grades—that the test scores they achieve “will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything.”

Here’s the letter in full:

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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.

Truly, this is a story worth its virality—an acknowledgement of what makes our educators amazing. It’s a testament to how committed teachers can really be to ensuring their students’ success, both quantitatively and qualitatively. From the bottom of our hearts at TeachHUB, thank you to all the hard working teachers out there that go that extra mile for your classroom. You’re the reason why we do what we do.