The Pride of a Hard-fought Two


Students are not the only ones who get nervous when their AP scores are published in July. Teachers also feel the same nerves when they login into their College Board accounts to review their students’ scores. Theses scores represent the hard work of both students and teachers during the school year.

I am no different. I still feel the butterflies dancing around in my stomach as I scroll through the scores my students earned on the AP Literature exam. For the most part, students earn about what I thought they would earn. Sure, there are surprises on the upside and a few on the downside, but most scores are what I anticipated they would be based on their work throughout the year.

After I review the scores, I go back over those students who earned a 2. These students fell just short of a passing score of a 3. I thought some of these students would score a 3, so I share these students’ feelings of disappointment.

But, it is one test, on one day.

They will find their success in college and life as predictably as those scoring a 5. There is another group of students who scored a 2 that sparks in me a sense of joy and accomplishment. These students worked hard, challenged themselves, and risked failure. I am so proud of their 2’s, and I celebrate these students and their success.  I hold them up as examples for other students thinking about challenging themselves.

I had a wonderful young lady take my class this year. I will call her Carrie. Carrie was a star athlete. She was popular with his peers and with teachers and administrators. Carrie made the decision to challenge herself by taking AP Literature as a senior. She had taken an on-level English class as a junior. In addition to her heavy practice schedule, the added work of an AP English class was going to tax her time to say the least.

Carrie struggled with the class, but she never considered dropping down to an on-level class. I am sure dropping my AP class made sense at times, but she never broached the subject with me. Carrie worked hard. She completed the course, and she signed up for the AP exam.

On the day of the exam, I walked into the gymnasium to make sure my 104 test-takers were present. I spotted Carrie and I felt an overwhelming feeling of gratification. What a journey for this young lady. She was sitting in the room ready to take the AP Literature exam with her peers. At that moment I felt better about Carrie taking the exam than I did of my “slam-dunk” 5’s. The journey, and the lasting effects of her journey, was far more important to me than any 5. I didn’t care what score she earned.

Well, Carrie completed the AP Literature exam and her accomplishment represents a game-winning home run, or a last-minute 3-pointer to me. Carrie stood up and accepted a challenge and she succeeded. I am proud of her score. Because she accepted the challenges of an AP Literature course and took the exam, Carrie should be proud of herself. I know I am proud of her! Her hard work and dedication will serve her well throughout her life.

It’s time to look beyond last year’s scores as we consider the coming year. Let’s keep in mind that sometimes a 2 carries more significance than a 5, and numbers without context are meaningless.