Mother Leaves Internet Baffled After Sharing Her Daughter’s Third Grade Math Problem

By Bowen Xiao
Bowen Xiao
Bowen Xiao
Bowen Xiao is a New York-based reporter at The Epoch Times. He covers national security, human trafficking and U.S. politics.
November 8, 2017 Updated: November 12, 2017

A third grader’s math problem has left the internet stumped after the student’s mother went online to ask for help.

Last Tuesday on Oct. 31, mother of two, Dusty Sappington posted a photo on Reddit showing the strange question in her 8-year-old daughter’s homework, HuffPost reported.

In the photo, Sappington circled the problem which asked: “Janell had 15 marbles. She lost some of them. How many does Janell have now?”

Her daughter, Izzy, left a question mark in the answer field.

According to the Daily Mail, Sappington, 40, is a native of Terry, Mississippi.

Sappington told HuffPost that Izzy has dyslexia. She said her daughter currently attends a private school that offers both traditional cases and also specializes in learning disabilities.

Later the mother posted a comment, “If someone can answer this correctly, my child will be done with her homework!!”

In a reply to another user, Sappington wrote that the homework did not come with additional instructions and that it was not multiple choice.

“Nope, no instructions, just a really confused 3rd grader,” Sappington commented.

“I haven’t found out the answer, but hope to see her graded paper soon,” Sappington told HuffPost. “To be honest, I’m unsure if it was printed in error or was a question to test her knowledge of less than and greater than, which she has touched on in the past.”

Redditors were just as confused as the mother and could not come up with a numerical answer. But they did offer her some different solutions to the confusing question.

The top answer to Sappington’s post was a Reddit user that wrote: “< 15 but I don’t think that’s a fair 3rd-grade question.”

Others suggested 15 -x, but that answer did not seem to match the worksheets content, which only included straightforward questions with numerical answers.

Another wrote that the answer could be “some”—but a reply to that answer—”if some are lost, then most remain” seemed to further muddy the waters.

In an updated post the mother said the answer was revealed after she talked to her daughter’s teacher.

Sappington said she only posted the question on Reddit “mainly for amusement.”

“Being the mother of a third-grader and a fifth-grader, I have seen a lot of homework over the years that has our family laughing at the absurdities, scratching our heads and relying too much on Google,” she told HuffPost.

The mother hopes that the moment can encourage people about the importance of education and the need for better teacher’s wages.

“I hope this adds more fuel to the fire to better fund our educational systems,” she said.


Bowen Xiao
Bowen Xiao is a New York-based reporter at The Epoch Times. He covers national security, human trafficking and U.S. politics.