I don’t really like to travel. Okay, that’s not completely accurate. I enjoy visiting different locations away from home. I just don’t enjoy the travelling part of travel. I need to get a teleportation device of some kind to beam me where I want to go. At any rate, I am currently in Louisville, Kentucky (only a painless 2 hour flight from Houston).

Why am I in Louisville? Every May, hundreds of thousands of high school students around the world (literally) take AP exams in various subjects in order to hopefully earn some college credit. The College Board considers a score of 3 (out of 5) to be passing, and they encourage all colleges and universities to give college credit for scores of 3, 4, or 5. Not all of them do. Every college and university sets their own standards for each test to determine what credit, if any, will be earned for each possible score in each possible subject. Sound confusing? It is a little.

Every AP Exam has some sort of written section that has to be graded by humans, not just run through a scanner. The College Board and the ETS contract this grading out to high school AP teachers and college professors from all over the country. (This grading is referred to as “reading.”) Each subject’s reading is setup in a different location for about a week during the month of June so that scores can be sent out to the students and teachers by the beginning of July. Talk about a logistical nightmare!

The AP US History Reading is in Louisville. That’s why I’m here. (And yes, the city is being overrun by about 1,700 US History nerds teachers.)

The AP US History Exam has three different written sections. There are four short answer questions, one document based essay question, and one long essay question that combine to make up 60% of the students’ scores. I have been assigned to of the four short answer questions to grade over the course of the eight days we are here. I finished day number five a few hours ago, and so far I have graded 2,048 three-part short answer questions. At my current pace, I will probably grade a little more than 3,500 questions by the end of the week.

As sadistic as it may sound, the reading is a really great experience because we get to network and share ideas (and complaints) with other teachers from across the country. We also get a little bit of an “insiders” look at how the test is graded so we can teach our students better the next school year.

I think when it’s time to leave on Monday, the travelling won’t be so bad. I’m ready to get home to my family, and then I can start my summer without any more grading…until school starts back up in August.

Happy Trails!