Students with special needs (especially those with learning disabilities) need extra encouragement to focus on the now or look forward and not concentrate on the past. So often these students consider themselves below average and as failures that their feelings of failure can keep them from being successful. They look back at their previous grades and test scores and sometimes decide that they are dumb and can never do better.
Even the tiniest step forward, is a step forward. Helping our students focus on the present test, the present assignment, the present class will help them feel more confident. Hopefully that confidence will allow success.
It may seem corny, but hanging posters and pictures of people who failed before finding success; and showing movies where the main characters show perseverance may be more beneficial than we realize. We never know when a simple message (like "Keep moving forward" from Meet the Robinsons) can pop into a student's head when they're feeling frustrated or anxious before an exam.
When talking about grades or test scores, remember to be encouraging. No matter what the grade or test score, we can use that information to know what to work on or try a different way of learning the information. Test scores shouldn't be used to separate or classify students, but instead show us how to teach them. Not defining our students by their grades or test scores will help our students not define themselves that way as well.