A Florida teacher has written a heartwarming letter to her students on the eve of a statewide standardized exam.
Rhonda Sylvia, a teacher at Blue Lake Elementary School in Volusia County, Florida, sent the letter out to students and their parents the day before they were scheduled to take the Florida Standards Assessment test, WFTV reported on March 30.
The letter, which the parent of a Blue Lake student shared with WFTV in an email, praised the students' unique individual qualities and reminded them that standardized testing did not evaluate their whole worth.
The letter read as follows:
My dearest students,
This week you will take your Florida State assessment (FSA) for reading and math. I know how hard you worked, but there is something important that you must know. The FSA does not assess all of what makes each of you special and unique. The people who create these tests and score them do not know each of you the way I do, and certainly not the way your families do.
They do not know that some of you speak two languages, or that you love to sing or paint a picture. They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them, that your laughter can brighten the dreariest day, or that your face turns red when you feel shy. They have not heard you tell differences between a King Cobra and a Rattler. They do not know that you participate in sports, wonder about the future, or that sometimes you take care of your little brother or sister after school.
They do not know that despite dealing with bad circumstances, you still come to school with a smile. They do not know that you can tell a great story or that you really love spending time (baking, hunting, mudding, fishing, shopping...) with special family members and friends. They do not know that you can be very trustworthy, kind or thoughtful, and that you try every day to be your very best.
The scores you will get from this test will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything. There are many ways of being smart. You are smart! You are enough! You are the light that brightens my day! So while you are preparing for this test and while you are in the midst of it all, remember that there is no way to "test" all the amazing and awesome things that make you, YOU!
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please keep all kids in the state of Florida in your thoughts tomorrow. Thank you.
Aleshia Crimmons, the parent who emailed the letter to WFTV, said the teacher's thoughtful letter brought her to tears.
"I commend her for everything she has done with the kids this year," she wrote in the email.
The Florida Standards Assessment test, which was first introduced in 2015, is designed to evaluate student achievement in reading, writing and mathematics, according to NPR's State Impact. It is administered statewide to students in grades three to 10.
According to the Blue Lake Elementary School website, third-graders at the school are scheduled to take the test from March 29 to April 1, while fourth-graders will begin testing on March 31.