Why a 100 Doesn't Make Me Proud

"Miss Rosser...did I do good? Look over it! I want to see if I made a 100!"

I looked over his test and nodded my head. 

"Sweetheart, you did so amazing! I am so proud of you. I can really see that you tried your hardest!"

"But what did I make?"

I could see the disappointment in his face when I told him he received a C. 

"I really wanted to make a 100. I really wanted to do good."

[Oh, but dear, you did. Don't you see how far you've come since August? You could barely read. You use to just fill in the bubbles. You didn't care about how well you did. Now you are reading the questions by yourself, thinking about the options and referring back to the text.]

"Hey, look at me. You did your best didn't you? I can tell. I saw you looking back at your story. And maybe this isn't the grade you wanted, but it's progress. You are working so hard. Remember how well you read for me this week? I am so proud of you. Keep up the hard work. It's not about the 100, it's that you tried your best. That's all we want from you. I'm so proud of you."

Oh how my heart aches. My heart aches because this isn't the first time a student has had tears welling in his or her eyes. Somehow, our education system has told our students that anything less than a 100 is a failure. 

And it's not.

100 means perfect. And do you know how many perfect things in life there are? Um none. Life is not perfect. If students are always receiving 100s, it means they aren't being challenged. And students need to be challenged. 

But what the student sees is another C. But how I wish I could show him how his Fs have turned to Cs. And with time and persistence and patience, those Cs can turn to Bs or even As. 

But even if they don't. It's just a grade. It's a second grade reading test on a silly story that will have no real impact on his life. I wish that I could show him how his helpful spirit and kind heart are the virtues that will get him far in life. That those are the things that matter. I want him,and all of my students to try their very best on all of their work, but what I care about more is their hearts. 


  1. I'm so glad to hear a teacher with this perspective. Keep this up for sure!


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