If you remember last year's blog post about the AP exams, you know that things could have gone better. I'm happy to report that we didn't have as many problems this year (although it makes for a less humorous blog post); this was my third time running this particular show, and I tried to avoid the pitfalls of years past. One thousand, one hundred, and thirty-two tests later, we're done.
That doesn't mean we didn't have our moments, however. So here's the wrap-up:
Between athletics and test conflicts, I had the highest number yet of make-up examinees. Twenty-seven may not sound like a lot, but that was over ten tests--with most of those being one-to-three kids in a room. (I think we actually gave two of these tests in a broom closet somewhere.) What added to the number were the students--FIVE of them--who called at the last minute to let me know about emergency surgery. Yes, you read right: surgery. There is, I'm convinced, no limit to what these kids will do for extra study time.
AP Temporal Studies
The AP tests have started at either 8am or noon since the beginning of friggin' time, yet there was always a handful of students who walked in late. In some cases, I had kids asking what day the test was being given (regardless of the schedule on my website, the constant reminders from teachers, and the PA announcements). I thought the AP tests were supposed to be a big deal; how seriously are these kids taking these tests if they don't even know what day it's taking place? It's worth noting that one of these kids thought his test was on Wednesday, not Monday--he ended up as one of the 27 make-ups.
AP Tech Support
There are several tests--the Music Theory and Foreign Language tests--that require the examinees to record something spoken or sung. We use the foreign language lab, which used to be equipped with 39 individual tape recording stations. Each kid recorded through the headphones, no problems. This year, however, I had to order CDs instead of tapes; our language lab got major upgrades, with new computers and kick-ass software that allows you to do almost anything . . . except record stuff, apparently. This new lab was installed last summer, and my repeatedly-expressed-concerns didn't seem to penetrate the skulls of the IT people--I needed the students to be able to record individually and burn to disk. It took two IT techs, two foreign language teachers, and a student teacher to finally ge tthe lab up to speed . . . and they finished the day before the first of these tests. (I even had to arrange for a sub for one of the teachers so she could be there to help on test days.) So my question is this: who the hell spends a hundred thousand dollars on a digital language lab that can't record a student's verbal work?!? My laptop can pull that off straight out of the box!
AP Potty Training
Wanna make high achieving students have to pee? Say the words "ten minutes remaining." Gets 'em every time.
My Personal AP Awards for 2008:
Dumbest Question: "Do I put today's date in this box?" (You mean the one that says, "Date of Birth?" Actually, that's not a bad idea.)
Most Masochistic Question: "If I think I did poorly, can I take this again during the make-ups?" My response: No, AP doesn't allow it, and I think it violates the Eighth Amendment. She didn't know which one that was. (It's the "cruel and unusual punishment" one.)
Worst Question: (continued from above) "Which amendment is that?" I'm not kidding: this was the AP Government test.
Best (and Most Honest) Question: "Yes, I still had my iPod with me, but do you really think I was cheating with it? Do I really seem like I care enough about this test to cheat on it?" (He had me there. I dropped the whole matter; I didn't even write it up.)
Best AP Anecdote: Since the AP World History test was moved to the morning hours, and since there was NO way I could find five empty classrooms to house those 157 students, I rented tables and chairs and put them all in the small gym. (What the heck--it's big enough, it's away from the campus noise, and they were already used to the setting from the CAHSEE test.) With 30 minutes to go, one of the proctors--a really good sub and cool guy named Vince--came up to me and said "I feel like I'm inside the hull of an old ship; when they shift in their chairs, the creaking sound . . . I'm almost getting seasick." Twenty minutes later, I said to him, "You think it's bad now? Watch this . . ." And then I told the students they had ten minutes remaining. Like I said--gets 'em every time.
Cruelest AP Prank: The AP World History test is made up mostly of tenth graders, and this is their first AP test. After three and a half hours of testing (the end of the test), I said "pencils down" and then followed it up with, using the straightest of faces and with my eyes on the testing instructions, "You are now halfway done with the AP World History Exam." The looks on their faces were priceless.
Since I'm leaving this school at the end of the year, I won't be doing this AP stuff anymore. I'm glad I finally got it right--as right as possible, since there weren't any real calamities. It feels good to get something that big done, and done right.
Now all I have to do is sign the $89,000 check, and I can put the whole thing to bed.