July 13, 2016
Ben Twist: Teacher Gives Student With Autism Letter Praising Qualities Not Measured By Standardized Tests

Sometimes, a child's greatest qualities cannot be measured by standardized testing.

Such is the case of Ben Twist, an 11-year-old boy with autism, whose teacher recently wrote a beautiful letter, praising Ben for all the amazing qualities that standardized tests cannot measure.

The inspirational letter was written by Ruth Clarkson, after Ben failed the Sats, a version of standardized testing used in Britain, the Guardian reports. But his teacher didn't want Ben to dwell on what he may perceive as a failure. Instead, Clarkson wanted Ben to be proud of who he is, and so she meticulously and lovingly detailed all the talents and abilities Ben has, telling him that it were these qualities that "make you the special person you are."

Ben's mother, Gail, publicly shared the letter, tweeting that she was in tears when she read the following words.
"These tests only measure a little bit of you."
Clarkson began by congratulating Ben, who had the option of simply not taking the Sats, on his "attitude and success" in completing the standardized testing.
"A very important piece of information I want you to understand is that these tests only measure a little bit of you and your abilities. They are important and you have done so well but Ben Twist is made up of many other skills and talents that we at Lansbury Bridge see and measure in other ways."
Some of those skills and talents that make up Ben Twist but cannot be measured by the standardized test, Clarkson wrote, include Ben's artistic talents, ability to work in a team, growing independence and kindness.

But Clarkson was determined to make certain that her student understand that scores mean nothing, and do not change what an amazing person he is -- and that the school sees Ben Twist, sees how special and talented and able he is, in many different areas.

"We are so pleased that all of these different talents and abilities make you the special person you are and these are all of the things we measure to reassure us that you are always making progress and continuing to develop as a lovely bright young man. Well done Ben, we are very proud of you."
The post by Ben's mother, which includes the letter in its entirety, has gone viral. She said in an interview with the Liverpool Echo that simply completing the standardized test was a "massive achievement" for Ben."Ben worked so hard and sitting the tests was a massive achievement. We knew the results were coming but to get a letter like that – I got part-way through it and I burst into tears," said Gail Twist.

Ben was diagnosed with autism at the age of five, and just last year switched from a mainstream school to his current school of Lansbury Bridge, where Ruth Clarkson is obviously doing the work she was meant to do. The pupils at the Lansbury Bridge School include children with autsim spectrum disorders, physical disabilities, medical needs, and communication difficulties.

Gail Twist says that the mainstream school she originally had Ben in was wonderful, but she feels as though she made the right decision for her son by placing him in Lansbury Bridge School.

"Ben was in a mainstream school all the way through and he had one-to-one support. It was a really good school but the gap between him and his peers just grew and grew. As they were maturing, he wasn't maturing at the same rate.

"Lansbury Bridge school is a lovely environment where people really do have each individual's best interests at heart. Ben is sensitive and he does worry about things, and I wish more schools did things like this.

"He is all of the things they wrote about him -- he is an amazing person. I think their words will stay with him if we keep reminding him what they said about him. When I told him he said: 'Wow, do they really think all those things about me?' It's just a beautiful thing to do."

Yes, it was a beautiful thing to do. Good job to Ben Twist, and good job to his teacher, Ruth Clarkson, as well.

[Image via Twitter]