Iowa Freemasonry is a personal journal of a Freemason in central Iowa. This blog documents my Masonic research interests, experiences, and reflections. Welcome!

Friday, June 15, 2012

A diversion about Advanced Placement high school exams


Advanced Placement tests are a way for high school students to earn college credit while still in high school. The tests are developed by the College Board and given each May. For the high school class I teach (Government and Politics: US) the student answers 60 multiple-choice questions (MCQ) and 4 essays. They have 45 minutes for the MCQs and 100 minutes for the essays.

The College Board hires 600+ teachers and professors to score the essays over a 7 day period.  After a full day of training, we typically start scoring. We are divided into “tables” of 8 readers with an additional person who is our table leader. The table leader is an experienced reader and assists as we come across tricky essays.

We do not score all 4 essays rather we are assigned to 1 of the 4 questions and read it throughout the week. But not always. Sometimes 1 of the essays takes longer to read than others and readers are switched over to help with that essay. For example, this year I am scoring this essay:
The judicial branch is often assumed to be insulated from politics. However, politics affects many aspects of the judiciary.
(a) Describe two political factors that affect presidents’ decisions to appoint members of the federal judiciary.
(b) Identify two political factors that affect the confirmation process of a president’s nominees and explain how
each factor complicates a confirmation.
(c) Explain how one legislative power serves as a check on court decisions.
(d) Explain how one executive power serves as a check on court decisions.

This is a challenging essay for high school students, but the reason why it is hard to score isn’t because of the content but because of the wording. Describe, identify, and explain all mean different things and readers have to slow down and be careful to accurately score each part of the question.

We started with 18 tables assigned to read this question. By the third day of reading, 5 additional tables were added to help us catch up. My pace has been a bit slower than last year. So far, I have averaged 285 essays each day for 4 days with my high being 338 and low being 195. Its typical to have a smaller amount read on the first day (195 for me on Mon) than the 4th day (238 on Thurs.).

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