Writing Is Hard Work

Musings of a Hard Working Writer...

  • Roger Colby

AP Teachers: Why You Should Be An AP Reader


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I sit in the hotel lobby of the Westin Crown Center, a hotel in downtown Kansas City, waiting for my roommate to arrive in the lobby so we can see each other off.  Larry will board a flight for Chicago where he teaches in a private school and I’ll go back home to teach in Oklahoma, but there are also over 1400 other high school teachers and college professors who will go home today after a challenging but unforgettable week.

My hotel, complete with all the amenities, three meals a day, my flight, my checked bag, and one night out on the town were all paid for by the event.  My needs are always met.  I even get to ride a charter bus to and from the Kansas City Convention Center where we score the exams.

The exams.

Scoring the AP Language Exam, question 1, is probably the most grueling experience of my life and at the same time the most educational.  I completely understand the synthesis question, having become the rubric by day two, and am confident that my scoring was true and fair.  I read and scored 950 essays this week.

Yes.  I counted.

I cannot divulge anything about the question or the scores, but I can tell you that I have a better understanding of the exam so that when I teach Advanced Placement Language and Composition, I can better prepare students for what they will expect.  Since my roommate was scoring a different question, I was able to pick his brain about that one as well.  Also, in the course of sitting at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the many professional events scheduled for us in the evenings, I was able to ask of other scorers about the other question on the test as well.  I also came home with definitive samples of essays that are not only anchor sets (tried and true scores of 1 to 9) but also what are called “range finders” which are scores that are “in the ballpark” but higher level and lower level within the individual scores.  The reasons for the scores are also clearly explained.

If you are an AP teacher, you need to go to College Board’s website and sign up in January of 2016.  It takes a lot of readers, and some of the readers are retired teachers who taught AP who are asked back year after year.  Together we scored over half a million tests.  (That’s three essays per test, by the way)  We were also joined by the biology and statistics readers this year.

Kansas City is beautiful, and there is much to do in the evening when we clock out at 5pm.  However, I spent every evening working on my new novel due out at the end of the week, and had plenty of quiet to do so.  A little science fiction novel that should do well once it picks up steam.

But most of all, the experience is the pinnacle of what an AP teacher can discover about their course.  Save the link above, and in January apply with haste.

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