The Short of It
A former teacher fails the 2016 standardized tests and takes to social media to tell kids why it doesn't matter.
When Abi Elphinstone took this year's U.K. version of the SATs, which are created for 10-year-olds, she only got a 25 percent in math and 40 percent in English. But instead of feeling ashamed by her failing grade, the former English-teacher-turned-writer took to social media to make sure students everywhere knew about her results.
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In the now viral Facebook post that has been shared over 141,000 times and garnered more than 179,000 reactions, Elphinstone wrote in part:
"I'm very much on side with telling kids to work hard... but I am not on side with the English SATs test. It contains irrelevant and obscure information that does little to enrich a child's learning. Kids need to know the basic parts of speech - nouns, verbs, adjectives etc - to talk about a text analytically at GCSE. But time spent ramming modal verbs & subordinating conjunctions down their throats in Year 6 is time wasted. We run the risk of re-creating Dickens' Gradgrindian education system & a system that champions modal verbs over creativity and imaginative flair will never be a system that I can get behind. [sic]"
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Elphinstone, who admitted to being dyslexic and struggling in school in the past, also shared a photo of herself holding a sign that encouraged kids to value creativity and big dreams over standardized test scores.
Reactions to the teacher's post have been mixed, with some parents, former students, and educators praising her message, and others being quite critical.
One approving commenter shared this story: "This is from my 11 year old daughter......... I came home today really upset because I found my maths papers so hard ! I cried at school because I felt that i hadn't done well enough! When I got home my mum showed me your post and it made me much happier and confident about my future! So thank you for the lovely message! I am sure that it helped other children too. [sic]"
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Taking an opposite view, another commenter wrote in part, "Unfortunately I really have to disagree... Many countries begin formal national examinations much earlier than the UK, and the children cope just fine. Unfortunately in the UK, all children are treated as if they have a mild learning disability. Exams are a necessary part of the education system. Of course everyone gets stressed about them, but I feel they introduce important ideas early on in life. Hard work, discipline, timekeeping, working to recognised stadards [sic]."
My take? It's a balance; test scores are important, but they can't unravel a child's self-worth when he or she has other strengths instead. What do you think?