A Northern Ireland primary school sent home a letter reminding students they’re worth much more than a test score.
There’s more to a well-rounded education than being able to perform well on standardized tests, and a Northern Ireland primary school is getting a lot of attention for making sure their students know it. Harmony Hill Primary School in Lisburn sent home some entrance exam scores this week, but tucked into each envelope was something even more important: a letter reminding students that their value has nothing to do with the number on the enclosed score sheet.
A special message for all P7 children today courtesy of Harmony Hill PS, Lisburn. You are all amazing. pic.twitter.com/zD7z9kNGhs
— Chris Lyttle MLA (@Chris_Lyttle) January 30, 2016
The letter was drafted the by the school’s vice principal, Hillary Johnston, along with the rest of the staff. Since it was mailed, several people have shared it on social media and applauded the school’s heartwarming approach to helping students understand their value. The letter starts out by letting students know their score may or may not be what they were hoping for, and that it’s natural to feel disappointed if they didn’t perform well. If that’s the case, the staff writes, “we will be very sorry about that and will feel disappointed ‘for you’ too — but we won’t feel disappointed ‘in you.'”
From there, the letter reminds each student that they’ve worked hard and have great attitudes, and then says it’s their attitude — not their test score — that matters the most in the grand scheme of things.
“Who you are and the attitude you have will travel with you to whatever school is fortunate enough to have you as one of their new pupils in September. That is so important. You are quite simply unique, and we are very proud of you. Make us proud whatever school you go to. Don’t give up when the going gets tough. Grow up to be kind, caring, generous, loving adults who make a positive difference in this world by how you live your life. Remember the score in the envelope is just a mark for some tests. It cannot measure how amazing you are!”
It’s the kind of letter we wish all of our kids would get in school. It’s not that test scores are unimportant. Academic success is, after all, an important part of who we are and how we prepare for our future careers. It’s just that so often we reduce kids to only the measure of their academic success. We worry so much about grades and homework, class rank, test scores, and where they’ll eventually go to college. This letter is a beautiful reminder to parents and kids everywhere that there are so many other ways to measure success.
Test scores and report cards can’t measure charisma, character, generosity, leadership abilities, or the many other factors that culminate to create a successful person. They’re one piece of the pie — a piece that often gets mistaken for representing the entire pie — and we do our kids a disservice when we overemphasize the importance of these measures. This letter might seem soft to some, but it’s a simple way to bolster students’ self esteem and to remove some of the pressure they so often feel. As much as we want our kids to succeed and work hard, it never hurts to let them know how proud they make us just by being who they are.