AP Calc: Final Reflections ’16

A few weeks AP scores came out and I wrote this draft from gorgeous Yellowstone national park. I’ve since returned to the desert, where today’s high is a cool 101 degrees.


Old faithful. Did you know the NPS gives a time for the geyser’s eruption – and gives a 90% confidence interval. Pretty nifty huh?

Right before students took the exam I predicted at least two passing scores (3 or higher). Scores weren’t too pleasant: passing percentage of the five students: 0%.
Initially,I took the result kind of personally – I thought they reflected upon me as a teacher
and as a person. I asked questions like “am I good at this? Do I know what I’m doing?” Then, I thought a little more rationally about the circumstances of the students mathematic education and senior so I found some relief. More importantly, I found ways to move forward:
1. I took over the class in January and students clearly hadn’t
learned everything they were supposed to in the fall. Trust me, you can’t teach all of this course in a quarter.
2. Almost all seniors took AP Calculus, regardless of readiness. That was a hot mess, and we addressed that by adding Statistics as another upper level course so I can Calc kids further and faster.
3. I didn’t have embedded ap exam practice or exams to use as a score predictor after spring break. This was the only benchmark I had to predict, and the tool didn’t cover all the content. Looking back, this gave me a bias lens to make predictions with.
While these results aren’t what anyone wants to see, it will be helpful for this year. I’m already:
1. Flipping instruction so there is more class time devoted to practice.
2. Moving to standards based grading so grades always reflect mastery,
instead of compliance.
3. I taught these students all last spring. I know what I taught them.
They know me. I know them. We should be able to begin much faster and
with a mission right from day one. That is really exciting.
4. I get to teach AP Calculus from August to May – which is the first
time since I’ve taught the course.
5. I’m embedding FRQs every Friday. I need an accountability system to
make sure we practice. And, looking at the data, my students underperformed globally most in this part of the test.
6. Rearranging the curriculum to both spiral and push transcendental
so to the end of the course instead of interspersed a la Jonathan.
This leaves me with three things to tackle before school begins in August 1:
1. Look at instructional reports coming out and seeing if what I
taught students did better on, or if it was all a wash (mostly for a
glimmer of hope that I know what I’m doing) Aside: I did this. And, while still underperforming globally, the gap was way way smaller for the content I taught. So – there is hope that I know what I’m doing. 
2. What and how often will interim assessments be to predict future
I’m still going to be advocating systematic change, but change has to start with what I have 100% control over, or in TFA speak, what is in my locus of control. Let’s make waves and see the ripple across our network.


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