We all know that standardized testing can be daunting for any student, but it holds a particular set of challenges for those with special needs. In a society that measures our worth by scores and numbers, it can be crippling to a child’s self-esteem and morale.
As a parent, it’s equally brutal to watch your baby get crushed under the weight of the world’s expectations and ever-rising bar of success. That’s why one teacher at Lansbury Bridge School and Sports College decided to respond to one student’s failure a little differently.
You see, 11-year-old Ben Twist has autism. He may have not met the mark for standardized testing, but his teacher, Mrs. Clarkson, knew that Ben had so much more to offer this world.
Instead of just marking him with a number that said “you’re not good enough,” she decided to point out all of the remarkable qualities she sees in Ben that those multiple choice questions simply can not measure.
The letter reads:
I am writing to you to congratulate you on your attitude and success in completing your end of key stage SATs.
Gil, Lynn, Angela, Steph and Anne have worked so well with you this year and you have made some fabulous progress. I have written to you and your parents to tell you the results of the tests.
A very important piece of information I want you to understand is that these tests only measure a little bit of you and your abilities. They are important and you have done so well, but Ben Twist is made up of many other skills and talents that we at Lansbury Bridge see and measure in other ways.
Other talents you have that these tests do not measure include
• Your artistic talents
• Your ability to work in a team
• Your growing independence
• Your kindness
• Your ability to express your opinion
• Your abilities in sport
• Your ability to make and keep friends
• Your ability to discuss and evaluate your own progress
• Your design and building talents
• Your musical ability
We are so pleased that all of these different talents and abilities make you the special person you are and these are all of the things we measure to reassure us that you are always making progress and continuing to develop as a lovely bright young man.
Well done, Ben, we are very proud of you.
Ben’s Mom, Gail Twist, was so moved by the letter that she had to post it on social media for the world to see just how far this teacher went to make her son feel valued.
One powerful phrase in particular struck a chord in her mother’s heart and moved her to tears:
“These tests only measure a little bit of you.”
Gail’s post has since been retweeted thousands of times, as her son’s story is stirring a wave of emotion across the web. How beautiful it is to watch our educators reach beyond the measuring stick of the almighty “grade” to see into the depths of our children’s hearts.
The world could certainly use more teachers like Mrs. Clarkson with a vision cast far beyond the classroom…