You are More Than a Test


Last year, when my son was in 3rd grade, we hit a milestone familiar to most parents in Florida. It was time for him to take the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA). There’s been a lot of controversy about this standardized test, ranging from the validity of the actual exams, to what the results are being used for. We have friends who have lobbied against the use of these exams and family who has chosen to opt their child out of testing all together.

While personally, I do not agree with how test results are being linked to teacher pay or school funding, I do believe that assessments are part of life. Regardless of where you live or what type of school you attend, at some point in your educational career, you’re going to have to take a test.

So when the week before testing, his teachers asked us to send in a sealed note that our child would open and read before their first day of exams, I thought long and hard about what I wanted to say to my son. I knew his teachers had made sure he was well prepared; it was now my job to make sure he knew that one test does not define you as a person.

Dear Cole (my favorite son),

I’m supposed to be writing you a letter to help encourage you to do good on the FSA. But the truth is that the FSA is just one test and will never show what an amazing kid you are in so many ways. There are so many things that are so much more important than the FSA and you’re already rocking all of those!

You are an amazing friend, always caring and fair.
You are an awesome brother, always patient and kind.
You are a great student, always trying your best and working hard.
You are a team player, always encouraging and cheering on your teammates.
You are an artist, always creating and learning.
You are a scientist, always discovering and experimenting.
You are an incredible reader, always thirsting for your next book.

You are so many things that the FSA will never show. So your dad and I are encouraging you to try your best during these next few days of testing (I had to say that so Ms. Romer didn’t get mad at me) but I want you to know that you are so many other things that are much more important that just one test.

In the grand scheme of your life this one test really isn’t that important (don’t tell your teachers I said that). So try your best, but no matter how you do, your dad and I are already so very proud of what an incredible kid you are.

Love always,
Your Favorite Mom
(and your only one)

Best of luck to all the kids that will be testing in the next month. Make sure you try your best, but always remember, you are more than a test.

Shannon Beckham
Shannon is a former Special Education Teacher turned SAHM to two great kids, Cole and Kiley. Originally from Miami, Shannon met her husband while they were both attending the University of Florida (Go Gators). They decided to put down roots in Jacksonville Beach, and are very much enjoying the laid back salt life.


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