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  • Bestselling Author's Poor Writing Exam Score Shows a Bad Grade Is Not the End of the World

    A children's book author shows proof that grades are just numbers and letters.
    by Rachel Perez .
Bestselling Author's Poor Writing Exam Score Shows a Bad Grade Is Not the End of the World
PHOTO BY iStock
  • It's the home stretch for many Filipino students as the school year comes to a close soon, and there will be kids (even preschoolers and first-graders) who will feel anxious about it, especially when they have not gotten stellar grades throughout the school year.

    A child's fear of failing can be traced sometimes (okay, often) to us, the parents, who want them to get good grades. We don't want to pressure them, but sometimes our actions (sigh, overparenting) show the opposite. To us, good grades is a factor of success in the future (or at least a really good job for our child).

    New York Times best-selling author Alexandra Penfold, however, posted a tweet that seeks to dispel the notion that "bad grades" will get a child nowhere. She tweeted two photos from her childhood. One showed what she wrote on what she calls her "self-evaluation," and the other image showed her writing test score in a standardized test.

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    "I love to write, and I hope to become an author someday," Penfold's fourth-grade self wrote on her self-evaluation. Her writing test showed a score of 4, which means she barely passed. "This student is minimally proficient in writing," it read.

    To drive home the point that kids are #MoreThanATest, Penfold the fourth-grader will be proud to note that she did become a published author; in fact, she launched her sixth children's book in 2018, and it became a bestseller.

    How did Penfold turn things around? In a series of Twitter replies to those who asked, Penfold said she was lucky to have terrific teachers who looked beyond test scores and worked hard to engage all students. She was also fortunate to have parents who always supported her dreams and believed she could achieve anything.

    Explain the real purpose of tests and grades

    A growing trend among educational institutions, such as those in Singapore and many in Europe, is to do away with exams and grades that pit students among their peers.

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    Child development educator Sarah Patricia Gil-Unas, M.A. Ed., suggests parents explain grades to children as tools to help teachers evaluate his progress. It helps teachers know what areas or subjects the student needs more help, and it is not a tool to judge their intelligence.

    Praise effort and not the end result

    Psychologist Carol Dweck, Ph.D. has groundbreaking research that shows us how our perspective must change on the kind of mindset the child grew up with: a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset.

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    A fixed mindset focuses solely on the outcome. A score of 8 out of 10 gets praised as a "great job" or "perfect." But what do we do when it's a lower grade? That's when the growth mindset comes in — we shift our attention to our child's effort. Your child may have gotten 6 out of 10 in a project, but praising her hard work boosts her morale and shows her there is always room for improvement.

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    We have an educational system that requires kids to pass tests and exams, but these do not define them or their future. Give children a chance and the tools to improve not only in school but more so in life. They need the support of their parents and teachers. Kids need to see and hear you say that you believe in them.

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