Why I Ripped My Son’s Math Test Up When He Got an 89%


Today, more than ever, kids are under immense pressure from teachers and parents alike to exceed at school in every subject.

With lengthy homework assignments ranging from pages of common core math problems to science fair projects to book reports on the classics, its surprising burnout isn’t ruining children by 4th grade.

Standardized testing and ANY testing that matter can often feel like walking the plank for an aspiring overachiever or parent-pleaser, and thus the mark of anything less than the esteemed and coveted ‘A,’ can be utterly scarring.

But thankfully, parents like Jenn Kish are shattering the status quo by putting grades in their place and telling the world what she’s really proud of when it comes to her son’s “accomplishments.”

After her 10-year-old got an 89 percent on his math test that he had tried SO hard at, Jenn could hardly bear the tears welling up in his eyes over a mere number that dared to mark him as insufficient.

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As a child who would shake and cry uncontrollably over anything less than a 97 percent in elementary school, I deeply empathize with this boy’s pain of feeling like a total failure. But his mama’s bold move and words of wisdom following his pained reaction prove that our children are so much more than test scores and the boxes society tries to shove them in.

Rather, they are the sum of their character, integrity, passions, and love for Jesus and people.

Read Jenn’s viral Facebook post that is inspiring parents across the web to see grades differently below:

“I gave my 10-year-old a math test today. He spent nearly an hour and used four sheets of scratch paper. He worked each problem with intense concentration. And then with a deep breath he handed it to me to be graded.

I quickly worked my way through the test and calculated his score.
‘“It’s an 89’ I said, ‘that’s a high B.’

Immediately his eyes filled with tears. He had done his best work, given his greatest effort and had still come up short.

I looked at my boy and back down at his paper.

And then I ripped it in half.

My boy is amazing in the kitchen. He can cook a meal for the entire family without breaking a sweat.

My boy is incredible at putting things together. He uses tools like a skilled craftsman.

My boy is a founding member of the mother/son debate team, (I just made that up) he can persuade me into doing things I never planned to do.

My boy is hilarious. He is always the first one to make a joke at the dinner table.

My boy is a sensitive soul. He’s kind and gentle when that sort of thing is necessary.

My boy is diligent. He will work at something until he feels it’s as good as it can be.

My boy is NOT defined by the grade on his math paper.

When I ripped that paper up, I looked my boy in the eyes and I told him how I had watched him. How I saw him give his best, how he considered each problem and checked each one until he felt it was complete. I watched him erase and rework problems he was unsure of. I watched him pour every bit of effort in his little body into that test.

And I told him I had never been more proud.

Children are so much more than test scores. They are so much more than their reading level. They are so much more than the box we try to mold them in to.

School is important, education is important but it’s not of highest importance.

I am more concerned with how he treats others, with his level of integrity and his desire to serve Jesus than any score on any test.

I am more concerned with his ability to learn how to use his talents to earn money for his family.

I am more concerned with the character that we are building than the division facts on the paper.

Our children should have an opportunity to show us where they excel, especially in the elementary years.

I was shocked at the pressure he felt to do well on that test. I never imagined the tears of disappointment that would fall. I admire his ambition and his desire to do well.

I have never been more proud of an 89 on a math test.

#dohardthings #more

**For more encouragement and real-life stories follow Sprinkles In My Closet.**”

Kelsey Straeter
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Kelsey is an editor at Outreach. She’s passionate about fear fighting, freedom writing, and the pursuit of excellence in the name of crucifying perfectionism. Glitter is her favorite color, 2nd only to pink, and 3rd only to pink glitter.