Standardized Tests Are Not the Only Measure of a Student

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Do students' report cards include soft skills in addition to hard skills? Maybe we're not keeping score on the most important topics?

Alison Owen didn’t expect to tear up when she opened her 11-year-old son Charlie’s standardized test results but that’s exactly what she did. “It made me cry,” she said.

Accompanying the results was a letter from members of the faculty at Charlie’s school, Barrowford Primary School in the U.K., reminding students that there were more important facets of their education than test scores. The words from the letter are now spreading across the Internet, earning accolades worldwide. They said:

These tests do not always assess all of what it is that make each of you special and unique,” it reads. “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.

I love the fact that head teacher Rachel Tomlinson and assistant head teacher Amy Brikett possessed the insight to send this letter to parents and students who may become obsessed with test scores and what they mean to the child’s future.

Throughout my K-12 years, my report card not only included my grades in math, science, literature and other academic subjects, but also scores on attitude, conduct and demeanor. Teachers would actually write down how much they believed in the students, as well as how they appreciated the good attitude or the manners kids demonstrated. In reality, these characteristics are what employers are seeking in potential employees… and often what today’s kids lack.

Maybe we’re not keeping score on the most important topics. Maybe we need to include a letter when we send scores home with students, indicating the importance of attitude, courtesy and emotional intelligence in them. Maybe we need a report card on both hard skills (academics) and soft skills (the ability to relate well to people, show up on time, give eye contact, show respect, communicate well, display work ethic, and collaborate on a team). I’m just saying…

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