As a school leader one of the perennial events I have to go through is the release of national exam results to my students. This happened three times a year: once at the beginning, once in the middle and once at the end of the year.
If you view the release of national exam results at the event level, you can treat it as a mere information dissemination exercise. Give students what they have worked for and let them figure out the rest.
But releasing results presents other useful opportunities as well. Besides graduates who receive their results, there are three other groups of stakeholders who are interested in this event: current students in their final year of studies, parents of the graduates and teachers. This event is an opportune time to convey different messages to these three groups of stakeholders too.
What are the messages I convey to the audience under such a setting? There are four of them, delivered and emphasized in different ways at different platforms:
1. What your results show. Your results are a reflection of your efforts as well as the efforts of others, such as your parents and teachers. If you are happy with your performance, remember there are others who have helped contribute to your accomplishment by feeding and nourishing you physically, emotionally and mentally over the years (not just in the year of exams). Therefore show some appreciation to the people who have helped and journeyed with you in your education journey.
2. What your results are not. Your results do not determine who you are. They only indicate what your current options are and where you can go. If you have very good results, it does not mean you are brighter or better than others in life. It only means you have demonstrated better understanding in that set of exams than others. If you didn’t get good results, it does not mean you have a poor future or destiny. Poor results can be due to lack of effort or understanding, or poor self-management habits. Ask yourself what you can learn from the results and work towards being a better version of yourself.
3. Learning does not stop after national exams. Do not stop pursuing learning because you are too young to stop. In fact, the absence of exams does not mean learning does not happen. We learn all the time, whether about ourselves, about people around us, the environment and so on. Plan for your post-secondary education journey, and ask what you wish to learn more so that you will be more skilled for whatever work you will do in the future.
4. What can you learn from this. To the juniors who are watching this event, do reflect over the results of your seniors and ask yourself what is one thing you have learnt from this. When it is your turn next year, what emotions would you have, and why? If you have not thought of how to work towards your national exams, ask yourself what is the next step.
Although the messages seem directed at students, there are deeper shades of meaning parents and teachers can take away. Some teachers may feel burdened by the results and wonder if there would be consequences for not obtaining a good set of results (i.e. not meeting a perceived KPI). I hope my message to students would also remind them that their work is not just focused on subject teaching but also on student development. The assessment of their work performance goes beyond national results, and encompasses the range of work teachers do.
National exams present high stress and pressure on parents too, not least because parents would want their children to succeed and do well. In moments like these, it will be understandable for both parents and students to feel disappointed if students do not receive the results they so desire. Therefore it is important to remind parents that exams form part of the different milestones their children go through in life and that life is more than just passing exams. It is also a chance for me to remind parents that their children should seek to learn as much as possible rather than seek employment immediately.
What would you do if you were to release examination results to students? Would you have similar messages to what I shared?
How can we help the youth of today become courageous men and women of tomorrow?