It is school conference and report card time and with 3 children in the public school system, there are a lot of numbers coming at me. Reading test scores, math test scores, and everything in between. Some of these numbers have been listed as “above average” and some have been listed as “below average”. There was a time when these scores would have meant a lot to me, but now I try to keep all the percentages in perspective.
You see, I was a strong student. I remember taking standardized tests in school, performing well on them, and taking a great deal of pride in that. I thought those numbers on the paper said something about who I was. But now? In my 30’s with a beautiful family, happy marriage, and successful career? I don’t think those numbers had any bearing on where I am today. Sure, good test scores got me into a good college and then a good graduate program…but then I landed in a job that doesn’t use one iota of that education. What got me where I am today are not things that standardized testing could measure. Perseverance, confidence, determination, analytical nature, an open heart and mind, and an ability to hear, read, and understand people…these are the qualities I see in myself that have allowed me to grab onto a rewarding life.
So when I am presented with my children’s test scores, I will try to remember that those numbers are simply telling me if my child was able to select the correct answers to that particular test on that particular day. Those numbers do not measure my children’s intelligence. They do not measure my abilities as a parent. They do not measure likelihood of happiness and success in life. These are numbers that provide information to teachers and administrators (and politicians). I will let them worry about the number on the page, but as a parent, I have larger things to concern myself with.
When I sit down with my son to go over his report card there are only 2 areas we discuss: his score on effort, and the teacher’s written comments. Those tell me all I need to know. Those pieces of information explain that when he arrives at school, he is ready to learn and trying his best – and also that his teacher enjoys having him as a student. Those are the areas that tell me he is building the foundation for a successful life.