Authored by: Abby Grewe, AmeriCorps Team Leader at Highland Park Elementary School

For Ms. Chartier's third grade class, students had to get 80% on math tests in order to pass. It was almost halfway through the year, and so far Luis's highest score was 54%. Luis and I worked together a lot his third grade year on everything from math to mindset. Yet almost every time we sat down to work on math, he would slouch in his chair and groan, making it known to everyone that he hates math and doesn't care what grade he gets, that he'll never pass math.

As our next test approached, Luis and I spent even more math time together. We spent a lot of time practicing our multiplication strategies- skip counting, arrays, and grouping- all leading up to his test. About a week goes by between when he took the test and the day the students get the test back.

I watched his face as he flipped over the test and saw a huge smile spread across his face. By his reaction, I was so sure he had passed! He started bouncing in his seat, and waved me over to his desk. 78%. He didn't pass. So why was he so happy? "Ms. Abby!" He said. "Look how close I was to passing! I can definitely pass next time!"

Sure enough, he started passing tests as the year went on. This year his new City Year says that he's awesome at math. Those tests he passed aren't the ones that stick out to me. It was how he interpreted that test he didn't pass. His confidence and belief in himself, his positive self-talk and growth mindset lets me know he's gained the skills to work hard to achieve his goals, even when they don't come easily.

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