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The Aquilian

The Aquilian

    AP Graders: Where do our tests go?

    For an entire year, AP students study, read and complete a sizable amount of work for classes. All of the rigorous work and countless hours of studying culminate to a three to four-hour test to decide whether or not you get college credit.

     But what happens after you turn that test in? Where do they go? Who are the people that make the decisions on whether or not test-takers pass?

    Ms. Emily Kokol-Rivera, social studies teacher who teaches AP European History, AP US Government and Politics and AP Comparative Government, has been grading for the CollegeBoard for the last six years.

    “The reason a lot of teachers do it is to get much better at understanding the rubrics and understanding what College Board is looking for in whatever kind of free response your exam has,” she said.

    That is what seems to be most valuable about being a grader. Teachers are able to fully understand what AP is looking for in terms of grading, and then teachers can go back to their classes in the fall with that knowledge, improving their teaching skills.

    Math teacher Mr. Paul Buckley became interested in becoming an AP grader in 2001.

     “I wanted to learn more about the subject, I was getting paid for it and I got to visit cities I hadn’t visited before. All enticing reasons to become a reader,” he stated.

    The grading sites are located all over the country. Tampa, Fla., Kansas City, Mo., Cincinnati, Salt Lake City and Louisville, Ky. have all been used for grading conventions.

    Mr. Buckley has enjoyed Kansas City. 

    “It’s great visiting other parts of the country and sampling the culture, the food, the sports, the sights of those cities. Although I would welcome a break from KC – I’ve hit every KC BBQ joint there is – I could go for something different now,” he stated.

    Mr. John Ausema, an AP Environmental Science teacher, has been grading for College Board for more than 10 years. 

    “I would not mind a switch to a new location” he stated. 

    Mr. Ausema has been grading in Cincinnati for the entirety of his AP grading career.

    “I wanted an opportunity to contribute to the larger effort of making the AP program ‘work’ at a national level,” he stated. 

    Mr. Ausema’s long relationship with the College Board as a grader and a teacher has improved his ability to teach his AP class. Gaining a deeper understanding of the AP grading process seems to be most helpful to all teachers in their pursuit of teaching excellence.

    As far as actual physical grading goes, the tests arrive at the testing site and are scanned and uploaded to screens for graders to look at, this is one of the College Board’s newest updates. 

    “I prefer it on the computer screens because the room itself is far less noisy. Because then I’m not dealing with 300 people flipping papers all day long,” Ms. Kokol-Rivera said.

    While the grading ends, friendships tend not to. Ms. Kokol-Rivera has developed many professional and personal relationships. 

    “[I] now have friends that [I] can text and be like, ‘What do you all think of this?’ A lot of people go for the professional connections,” Ms.Kokol-Rivera said.

    Mr. Buckley highlighted the many important relationships he has developed by stating, “I talk with my AP Stats peeps literally every day, whether in texts or on FB or other social media platforms. Sometimes it’s to talk shop about classroom ideas, sometimes it’s just to talk as friends. I’ve visited their homes and met their families and they’ve done the same with me.”

    The AP graders are truly the magic behind the curtain when it comes to the infamous AP exams.

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