Today you told me you were stupid. That you couldn’t even read the stupid test. That you knew you failed and so you gave up. That you will never be a reader. Again.
And I looked at you and I asked if you needed a hug. As you crept into my arms, there was so much I wanted to tell you and like your bumbling mother I tried.
I told you to remember that you are not a stupid test.
That you are not a correct answer. Or an incorrect one for that matter.
That you are not just a level, a piece of data, an insignificant number determined by a profit-making entity. You will never be just a J.
That you are not stupid.
That you are not failing.
But that you are smart.
That you are brave.
That you are a reader.
Because what the test didn’t care about is that we see you read. We see you listen. We see you choose a book and make your way through the pages, even when the words don’t make sense.
We see you ask to go to the library and please can I have one more book?
We see you read to your siblings, to ask for just one more page, to tell me everything that has happened in the Lightning Thief since I last drove the car.
We see you try, We see you fight for the words at times, and other times, they come so easily.
What the test doesn’t care about is how far you have come. How you know all of the strategies but when you know you are getting the answers wrong it doesn’t matter what you were taught because all you can think about is how you know you are wrong and now the rest of the world knows it too. How does anyone face that as a child?
What the test doesn’t care about is how much you love reading. How much your teachers work hard to protect it. How much being a reader, one that reads chapter books, means to you. Which is why you keep trying every single day, every single time.
So when we look at the data, dear Thea, I wish it told the full story. That it actually showed us what we needed to know. Not just a level. Not just a score. Not just the incorrect or the time spent struggling. Not just the suggested lessons or the gaps in your skills.
I wish it knew you. No test ever will. That is why we are so thankful for your teachers.
But I can tell you now, and you have to believe this loudly. You have to believe this proudly. You have always been a reader. You will always be a reader. Nothing will change that if you don’t let it. So don’t let it.