Third grade teachers at Dolores W. McClatchey Elementary School in the Midlothian Independent School District made it their mission to teach a lesson in self-confidence before students took the STAAR test.
Students as young as 8- to 9-years-old are feeling the pressure to perform.
"We love our students, and we really want to foster a sense of curiosity and creativity," said Shannon Henderson, who teaches the 3rd grade at McClatchey Elementary. She said teachers noticed the students were becoming anxious the closer they came to the end-of-the-year state exam.
"They should not be coming to school with anxiety,” said Carrie Hamilton, a teacher for 17-years. "So, we all got together and wrote a letter to our students letting them know that their value is not based on the score of this test. We wanted them to know that they are special and unique."
The "take home assignment" was a letter given to each student. "It really helped," said Jake Moody, a 3rd grade student. "Whenever it got closer and closer to taking the STAAR test, I was a little nervous. After reading the letter, I could just focus on the test."
"I mean, the test is four hours long," said Andrew Vick, also in the 3rd grade. "Reading the letter really calmed me down 'cause I was really nervous, so it inspired me to do better on the STAAR."
"The STAAR test does not assess all of what makes you special and unique," a portion of the letter read.
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"The people that create these tests and score them do not know each of you the way that we do, and certainly not the way your families do. they do not know that you speak two languages or that you love to sing or draw. They have not seen your natural talent for dancing. They do not know that their friends caught on you to be there for them. That your laughter can brighten the darkest day, or that your face turns red when you feel shy. They do not know that you participate in sports or wonder about the future or sometimes help your little sister after school, or maybe even your big sister or brother."