This year more than any other has demonstrated the need for more than just strong test results to cope with the curveballs life throws at us. In the face of horrific bushfires, lockdowns, remote learning, and time away from loved ones, students have had to draw deep to cultivate important life skills that many individuals don’t develop until well into adulthood.

Moving from structured face-to-face learning to remote online learning has tested students’ ability to nimbly switch directions and remain positive in the face of change, which will be instrumental in helping them to thrive in a fast-paced world, where the majority of them will perform jobs that don’t even exist yet.

Many jobs students will have don’t even exist yet.

Many jobs students will have don’t even exist yet.Credit:Joe Armao

As they explored new ways of learning, students also found creative ways to socialise, turning to technology to maintain human connection and a sense of community, which I doubt many will take for granted anytime soon.


The ATAR can’t measure accountability, kindness, tenacity or any of the other invaluable strengths students have developed during this year. Students have been creative, self-directed, determined and shown incredible strength. And just because we can’t distil these learnings into a neat number, it doesn’t make them any less important. In fact, it’s these qualities that provide a strong foundation for future success and happiness.

As we close out the year, I want to remind all students that a test score cannot measure the hours you spent creating new ways to engage with your community. It can’t measure time spent pushing through frustration and loneliness. A test score can’t demonstrate your curiosity, empathy, bravery or resilience. So, to all of those students anxiously awaiting ATAR results on December 30, please remember that a test score can only measure a small fraction of who you are.

Marise McConaghy is principal at Strathcona Girls Grammar.

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