Monday, April 13, 2015

A Letter to My Daughter About Testing

My daughter was pale and shaking. My friend mouthed, “Is she going to cry?” I shrugged unsure of what to do. For a moment I felt like I was sending her off to a den of wolves, instead of off to her classroom to take our state's "big test". I have been teaching since 1998 and have pretty much administered one high stakes test or another every single year. I have been preparing students for testing and nurturing them through test anxiety for my entire adult life, but this was different. All the encouraging words that I have said to students and parents over the years came flooding back to me, but they seemed different now that it was my daughter. This time it was personal.

I gave her a big hug and a pep talk and sent her off on her way. I headed off to proctor the test in another classroom. All day I could not stop thinking about all the things I could have said and wanted her to know. I assumed that my laid back “you are prepared, you can do it, do your best” attitude would help her understand that while the test is important today, all the things that make her the person she is are the most important. After really searching my soul I knew I wanted to tell her more. That evening I went home and wrote this letter to give to her before testing.

To My Daughter,

      Today you are taking “the big test”. It is your day to shine and show what you know and can do! Approach it like you approach all things; opt in, rock it, and do your personal best. Please know that I believe in you.

      A few months from now we will get the results of the test. It will tell us some information about how you did this day. It might show us some areas where you excel, some areas where you are right where you need to be, and some things that you are still working to master. It will show how you did on a test, over a few days of your life this year. If your life was a scrapbook, this would be one picture in it. It tells one small part of the story of you.

     There are so many things this test can not measure. It will not measure the kindness in your heart, your leadership skills, or your ability to be a good friend. It can not possibly tell what an amazing sister, daughter, and person you are growing up to be. It will not show the soccer goals you scored, the gymnastics skills you have worked so hard to master, or the flips you can do in the swimming pool. Your test results can not possibly measure your imagination, the creative way you solve real world problems, or the epic blanket forts you make on rainy days. It will not measure your capacity to love and do good things for others, to make a difference in the world, or to dream about your future. The test results will show some things, but they do not measure the things that make you who you are, the things that make our heart swell with pride and love; the smiles, laughter, friendships, and love that you will carry in your heart on your journey towards adulthood. The things that really matter.

     The test today is important, but it is one piece in a giant puzzle. So do your best on the test, but more importantly live your best life everyday because that is the real “test”.



  1. Alexis... this letter is wonderful. What a sweet way to help children keep this test in perspective and still be reminded of the many other gifts they posses that will never be measured by assessments like these.

  2. Wow, I truly shed a tear after reading that one Alexis! That was so touching, and so right on. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Love this and sharing… :-) Thank you!

  4. Hi!
    My daughter is also in 4th grade. I have chosen to Opt out on the State testing for her. She has a lot of anxiety about testing and is always the last one done. As a teacher, I feel they are put through the practice test, our schools NWEA testing, testing, testing.....
    For our family and my daughter, this was the right choice. I wonder if other parents know that this is an option?

  5. Opting out was not the route that we decided to go as a family, but I certainly respect any choices parents make in the best interest of their children/families! After all, we all "play for the same team" with the goal of raising healthy, confident, and amazing children. Best of luck to you!

  6. This is a truly touching letter! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Thank you for your sweet comment Josie!

  8. This brought me to tears Alexis! Great Job!

  9. Right on point! Truer words have never been spoken! What a great mother and teacher your daughter has!

  10. I'm going to print this and share with TT today after day 3 of testing. Love the insight :)
    Allyson Notine