I am in Louisville this week, scoring advanced placement English Literature essays (with 2500 other college professors and English teachers from across the nation).
I am impressed by a few things:
1) that there are 2500 English teachers from across the nation who spend a grueling seven days scoring essays. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever done, and I’ve now done it for nine years. We don’t do this for the money (although the money is nice); most of us do it because we care about students, about their reading and writing, about the AP programs in which they are involved.
2) that there are almost one million students who take these classes and these tests/essays. It’s mind boggling to me. Yes, many of them receive college credit, so there is financial gain for them (even though each test costs $85), but many of them take AP classes to challenge themselves, to expand their own ability to read and write with breadth and depth. I am not allowed to give details (all good tests, I think, have an element of secrecy, which I may write about at a later date), so I can’t tell you about some of the specifics of students’ essays.
I can say this, though: there are amazing things happening in classes across this nation. Many of these students are clever and funny and insightful and brilliant. Honestly, there are many essays that I read and think to myself, “I wish that I could write like that!” They’ve struggled over a challenging prompt (Edward P. Jones’ The Known World) and in 40 minutes have written some beautiful essays (yes, there were also some confusing, silly, frustrating essays).
It’s the beautiful, clever, insightful ones that make me realize–as I’ve said so often on my own FB page–that the country is in good hands, that are future leaders are, indeed, bright and full of potential.
To me, these comments just support my beliefs (like yours!) that teachers across the United States are skilled and that students continue to succeed. Too bad the media constantly bashes teachers and our profession. I wish they’d run a story like this blog post on the evening news. Berliner & Glass have some great arguments supporting our nation’s teachers in “50 Myths and Lies that Threaten America’s Public Schools.” Among these, they assert that teachers are underpaid, that class sizes are too large, and that teaching creativity is an important component of education. Teachers struggle against many obstacles today. Reading about AP tests being scored by AP teachers also reminded me of Berliner’s writing about state tests often being scored by under-educated people in cubicles, sometimes even from other countries! (in “Collateral Damage”). I applaud the teachers and the AP Board for employing teachers from the content area to grade the exams. Struggle on teachers!