Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Confessions of an AP Comparative Government Reader. Final thoughts.

I liked grading Advanced Placement tests.  In fact, I think every teacher should grade these tests to get a true sense of what is in the head of those not only grading the test, but those making the test.  I’d go so far as saying that it could be mandatory, even if your scores are fabulous.  You could take that knowledge and maybe it could dribble down to the test. 

Some final thoughts.

-My table was flat out awesome.  I was one of two rookies and the collaboration on the question was fantastic.  Sure, we had to keep pace on getting things accomplished within a certain time frame, but the feeling was open and honest.  We would ask each other if an answer seemed right, and then would challenge each other to justify the score.  One of the comments from the Table Leader stuck with me.  On the last afternoon I thanked him for his patience and guidance, and his response was “hey, it was fantastic collaborating with you.”  That answer was exactly what you want to hear in that environment.  It makes you realize that the grading was a job, but also a deeper process.

-Everything you have ever heard about the grading room being cold is absolutely true.  I love a cool environment, but I spent over half the time wearing a hoodie.

-As you might expect there were some interesting answers that I read in those little books.  Yes, there were a fair amount of blanks, let’s just get that our of the way right now.  In fact, there were too many blanks and they came in groups.  However those with creative answers also showed up once in awhile.  We had to read them because sandwiched between the garbage could be an actual answer to the question.  The normal drivel was usually a letter to the reader explaining how their life was doing.  99% of these letters were totally harmless and the student usually explained how they weren’t ready for the test and had got into the university they wanted anyway.  I read a few love stories, a few songs, and looked at random artwork that was actually quite good.  I was pretty sure that there was an attempt to artistically answer the FRQs, but I couldn’t prove it therefore it didn’t cut the mustard.  Oh yeah, and quite a few tests had letters stating that they had to take the test and didn’t want to.  Interesting.

-According to readers, every year has a theme from those that don’t answer the questions.  This year the theme was “swag”.  Swag is basically how someone holds themselves and their self-image; usually revolving around confidence and demeanor.  Well, there was plenty of swag talk in the FRQs.  Some people wrote about how President Putin had major swag while Prime Minister Cameron had little swag.  Others wrote how their life was full of swag, from chillin with homies to getting the ladies and playing hoop.  Still others would actually write rap lyrics dedicated to swag.  But the ultimate was when one reader suddenly stated “Look!  It’s a complete treatise on swag!”  Sure enough, a student had taken the time to write what could be considered the definitive Wikipedia post on swag.  It really had us rolling with laughter. 

The experience was good, I highly recommend it, and I want to go back.  We’ll find out next year if I’m back to Kansas City.     

blog comments powered by Disqus