I'm not going to congratulate you on your AP results

While busy finishing off my sides for my talk at CSTA2018 this weekend I noticed a Facebook post about APCS exam grades now or shortly being available.

I'm no longer teaching high school but still fancy myself a teacher first and part of the K12CS community. We're a growing community and we're growing fast.

Usually, at this time of year we see a number of people posting their results. "I had 16 test takers, had 5 fives, 6 fours etc."

I decided that not only won't I be congratulating anyone on their results this year but decided to write this quick post to say no one should.

I'm not saying that hundreds of teachers out there don't deserve congratulations - they do. The problem is, for everyone who's kids got all fours and fives, somewhere out there was a teacher who possibly through no fault of their own had students scoring ones, twos and threes.

When I was at Stuy, almost all of my kids got fours or fives when the exam was the old AB exam. When it went to A only, it was almost exclusively fives with a few fours and maybe a single one. That wasn't me. It was the kids. The AP CS teacher before me got similar results as did all of my colleagues and the teachers who are still there. Again, it was the kids.

That's not to say that I didn't add value. I know I spent a career at Stuy doing right by those kids regardless of test scores.

The fact is that there's only so much a teacher can do.

  • Was APCS (A or principles) their first course?
  • What other demands are placed on the students?
  • How about the teacher?
  • How many kids in a class? How much time?
  • Is APCS an elective or required??
  • Is the teacher getting the support they need?

And the list goes on. I know some great teachers who never had classes with great AP results and meh teachers that did. Actually, I know some APCS and Calc teachers that consistently had classes with good scores through drill and kill and building student speed. Of course, at the same time these teachers totally turned the kids off from the subjects

Our teachers do deserve praise and congratulations.

  • Praise for getting through another year.
  • Praise for forging a path in this new subject area.
  • Praise for doing more with less.
  • Praise for inspiring kids and starting them on a path.
  • Praise for changing lives for the better.
  • And so on

If your kids left with more than they came in with you did a great job and deserve congratulations. If you set a seed that will later grow you've done an enormous amount of good.

It's like I would always tell my kids when they won an award. I was never proud of them actually winning the award. I was proud of how they carried themselves, prepared, performed or whatever. The award was just some outsider also noticing they're awesome.

Same thing here so I won't be congratulating teachers on student test results. The results coming in do provide some measure of closure for the year though so I will congratulate you all on the year and your work.

Hope to see many of you this weekend at CSTA2018.