AP scores are in, it's time to push my five year Calculus plan into Year Three.

Only recently have I thought about what the full five years looks like:

Year 1, 2014-15
Figure out what I'm doing, address some of the biggest problems: the AP test is scary, students quit when things are scary, running for a schedule change when things get tough. Solved mostly with the happy accident that was Varsity Math. I had 50% (25 of 50) students take the test, exam results had a faint, but present, pulse.

Year 2, 2015-16
Hammer out a curriculum that makes sense. Address the literacy demands of the course. Grow everything: overall numbers, exam takers, results, etc. Varsity Math was straight fire in Year 2. It's an established bit of school culture. Kids weren't scared anymore and were just amazing. I had 72% (49 of 68) students take the test, exams results below (such a tease).

Year 3, 2016-17
Push harder when it comes to literacy demands. My AP benchmarking system was effective, but has room to improve. Some items of the curriculum need a little polish: sketching polynomials, and a touch more algebra. We've got a BC student this year! That's going to be a learning experience for us both. I want 80% of students to take the exam and 30% of them to pass.

Year 4, 2017-18
We really grow the program now. I hope to have identified 2-3 students who could take BC straight up, without AB initially. This will involve some diligence on the part of me and the other Pre-Cal teachers. For BC to be a standard part of the program by Year 10, the first few years have to have the right students involved. AB goals remain the same, keep test takers about 80%, push on the passing rate. Could we nudge up to 35% here? More? We diversify options for other 12th graders and start offering a section of academic Calculus. We have a healthy set of students who would enjoy the Calculus curriculum, but at a more relaxed pace.

Year 5, 2018-19
Firing on all cylinders. Another set of 2-3 BC students, fully stocked AB sections, and an academic offering. Could passing the AB exam be a normal expectation of the majority at this point?

The big question is finding the inflection point. With enough effort, the program will turn the corner, but how soon? I thought it might be this year. We aren't quite ready for prime time yet. It's primed though.

Score Time

Standard disclaimer: I know I write about it a lot, but I am not all consumed with AP results. It's interesting third party data. That said, there's absolutely no reason my students can't enjoy the kind of AP success seen at other high schools in my district. And, that success can be had without your boring old AP approach.

Last four years (2015 is my first group):

Those 44 1s were hard to swallow, especially given the kids who got them. I know those kids, tons of them were dynamite and were humming along with the benchmarks. What happened? Language? Nerves? An interesting mystery, since I'll never know what kind of 1s they got.

But look! A 5! Believe you me, that kid was a rock star and totally earned it. And and and, two other kids passed! When I tell you the AP situation was pretty bad here, I mean it. Three kids passing is crazy pants.

A positive for the benchmarking system I used (questions sourced from secure CollegeBoard releases), those 5 non-1 scores all sat at the top of the charts (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 8th overall). Clearly something went right there.

A deeper comparison of 2015 vs 2016:

Aaaaaand here's the source of that big 1 pool. Multiple Choice still appears to be the Doombringer™. But but but....look at those Highest 4th numbers! Even the Third 4th has more signs of life. Shoutout the growth on integral-based questions.

Biggest win in Free Response was all those 0.00% in the Lowest 4th for half the questions. Crazy stuff. Question 1, 4, and 5 in 2015 covered similar content to Question 1, 4, and 3 in 2016. Small signs of growth in every quarter.

What Now?

Curriculum tweaks and literacy demands are priority one. What of the benchmark system? It definitely has merit, but how can it be adjusted to be a better predictor? I was feeling really good, but got faked out in the end.

I love chewing on this problem. There are so many variables to consider and I feel pushed to get better and better. The kids are SO awesome, how can we prove it and quiet the haters?


The purpose here is to remove some stigma. Even teachers on the internet struggle. It's the nature of the profession. I'm choosing to struggle out loud.

AuthorJonathan Claydon