Your child is more than a test score

Today we held a meeting for some very anxious 3rd grade parents. Their children are taking the dreaded state tests for the very first time. Thanks, No Child Left Behind. Parents are already obsessing over whether their 8 year-old will be classified as Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, or Advanced.

I wasn't planning on saying much during the meeting. I hate standardized tests with a passion. I don't believe they show a child's true ability or talents, and I detest the fact that as a teacher, I'm forced to spend so much time dealing with them.

But when a mother said this, I couldn't hold back any longer:

"For me, the reason I'm so nervous is because this is the first time I'll see whether or not my daughter is a good test taker. Test taking is so important for her future."

I took a deep breath. In that moment, all I could say was this:

"Your child is so much more than whatever she scores on this test. Sure, we can't pretend that test scores don't matter at all. But I've always been a terrible test-taker, and I've done pretty well. Other things matter. Grades, essays, interviews, how she'll get along with people, the activities she does outside of school. This test score will not influence your daughter's life in any way shape or form. Please relax."

I stopped myself short of saying that I could care less how her child performs on this test, because I knew I would be crossing the school line at that point.

But the truth is that I really don't. Her child is funny, outgoing, an avid reader, a creative writer, and so caring towards others. How can a test percentage possibly capture all of that?