Test scores vs the teaching
This year was my third year of teaching A.P. Government. I took the place of a man who had probably been the most respected teacher in the school, so I had very big shoes to fill. The first year that I did it, I worked my backside off, but I was not very comfortable. I had never taught a college or A.P. class before, so I had always emphasized what I wanted students to learn, and then tested on that. Since the A.P. test would be given at the end of the year, and I had no idea what would be on it, I couldn't do that. American government is a huge subject (Aren't they all?), and there were times when I felt overwhelmed. I had never before had a class of mine take a national or a state test at the end of the year on something I taught, so that A.P. test became very important to me, and I can't say that I was exuding confidence when it was given. But when the results came back, I was thrilled. Out of 21 kids, eleven got 3s, which meant that they got college credit, five kids got 4s, and one got a 5--the first one on an A.P. Government test for anyone in our school for a number of years. (For those who don't know, 5 is the best possible score on A.P. tests, and 1 is the lowest.) The results were far better than they had been the year before, and so I felt pretty good about the teaching job I had done. When the next school year began, I was holding my head up a little higher, and my chest was sticking out a little farther.
This year, there is no question in my mind that I did the best job of teaching the class that I have done during my three years. My understanding of the material has greatly improved since my first year, and my presentations were definitely superior. Yesterday, I got the results of this year's A.P. test. The results: Three 3s, two 4s, and eleven 2s. My head has come back down, and my chest has come back in.
Is it possible--just possible--that those wonderful results that first year weren't a result of my being a great teacher? Is it possible they were more a result of my having great students? Nah, that couldn't be. Everybody knows that it's the teacher who matters.