April Ziemer, Editor

I have fond memories of my school days. I smile recalling my teachers and I miss the classmates that I spent so much time with creating memories. Most days were filled joy and laughter. Looking back, there was only one part of my school years that caused absolute panic and horror…having to take the Iowa Basic Tests.

I wish I could have seen the testing days as an opportunity for #2 pencils to finally get their turn to shine in the spotlight, but instead I saw it as a handful of days to feel incompetent. In the weeks that followed, you would go back to feeling like a carefree kid, only for scores to come back and crush your world. Scores showing I was merely that devastating seven letter word A-V-E-R-A-G-E.

I had flashbacks of the terrorizing Iowa Basic Standardized testing recently when my 17-year-old daughter took her ACT exams. The worst thing I could possibly do was telling her I didn’t remember the ACT test being that bad. I forgot what it was like to be the teenage kid feeling like a test was going to determine your entire future. 

Oddly I also forgot how testing many times sets us up to compare ourselves to others (which is never good). Comparing myself to others is one of my worst qualities and it is hard to preach to my children how horrible it is when I am so guilty of it myself.

My kiddo got through her ACT test and received her scores the end of last week. She was not happy with her results. It is so hard as a parent to watch your kids struggle, to watch them feel not good enough and to see them feel defeated.

Struggle, self-doubt and defeat are all parts of life, but it doesn’t mean I want to grab a snack and sit back and watch the latest episode of “Why being a teenager sometimes sucks.” It is especially hard when they feel like so many of their future plans are riding on it. 

When she received her scores last Friday, she probably wasn’t ready to hear her Mama’s advice, but when she’s ready, here is what I want her to know:

Does this test paly a little part in some decisions she is about to make? Yes. Does your entire future hang on the results of this test? Absolutely not. 

There are 20 things a standardized test does not measure that will be the real things that determine her future success:

20. Manners

19. Creativity

18. Sense of Humor

17. Passion

16. Fortitude

15. Grit

14. Empathy

13. Common Sense

12. Compassion

11. Motivation

10. Work Ethic

9. Determination

8. Personality

7. Intuition

6. Strength

5. Kindness

4. Character

3. Self-Esteem

2. Effort

1. Resilience

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying we should throw all testing out the window; in fact my daughter is going to take another crack at it. I just think we should try to instill in our children there are so many other things they should put stock into when planning for future success and happiness. 

When I think about some of the most important days of my life, I do not remember my husband asking what my ACT score was when he got down on one knee. I can’t recall any of my doctors asking my ACT score before they delivered my children. My boss Mr. Stangl didn’t even bother to ask when he offered me the job of a lifetime.

I guess my life became so much more than my ACT (or Iowa Basics) score.

I enjoy sharing my thoughts with you, and look forward to readers sharing their thoughts in return.

Feel free to email me at editor@theameryfreepress.com, write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery WI. 54001 or I can be reached by phone at 715-268-8101.

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