‘Tis the season for the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) testing in Ontario, and similar standardized tests across Canada and the US. Standardized testing gets caught in the craw of many princpals, teachers, parents and, let’s face it, even the students. Meant to assess schools and teachers to ensure quality of education and find areas that need improvement, the EQAO tests grades three and six in Ontario annually.
At the moment, there are many stressed out elementary students worried that the EQAO will define who they are. I have six kids in elementary school, so it’s fair to say that I have a decent understanding of the pressure this test can put kids under.
One sensible principal in the US decided to write a letter to students to remind them that standardized testing does not determine who they are and how much they are appreciated. The letter quickly went viral, prompting like-minded teachers everywhere to tweak and adapt that letter to suit the needs of their students. I was delighted to see a version of that principal’s kind and clever letter come home from a teacher at my children’s school.
Parents, if you have a child in the middle of EQAO hell, please take a moment to share this with them. Spread the message—our kids are too special not to know it:
Dear Grade Sixes,
Over the next few days you will be writing your EQAO tests. You have put forth a lot of time and effort into preparing yourself for these tests. I know that each of you will work hard and put forth your very best effort.
However, I want you to remember that these tests only assess one small part of who you are. The people who create these tests and score them do not know each of you like I do and certainly not the way your families do. They do not know that you can speak two languages, that you are a hockey player, a dancer, a soccer player or an animal lover. They do not know that you love to scooter, that you can jam on your guitar, or play a mean set of drums. They do not know that you can fix any computer-related problem, draw, sing, or write stories and poetry.
The people who write these tests do not know that you are a loyal friend and your laughter can brighten anyone’s day. They do not know that you are kind to those around you and that you volunteer your time both inside and outside of school to help others. They do not know that you take care of your brother or sister and that you love spending time with your family.
The scores you achieve on this test will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything. There are many ways of being smart. You possess many strengths and talents… some of which you have yet to discover! So remember to work hard over the next several days—and most importantly remember that you are indeed a wonderful gift from God.