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I've been a reader for the AP Lit and Comp exam, and I definitely recommend that you try the experience for several reasons. You learn how the essays are scored; thus, you can explain exactly to your students what the readers are looking for. I can have my students write practice essays and then score then using even the generic AP rubric confidently, knowing that my years of experience have given me a degree of accuracy that will help my students improve their writing---and not just for the sake of a score. Secondly, meeting people from other schools and sharing ideas with them is refreshing. I've made some enduring friendships at the AP readings. The reading day is exhausting, yes, but as maadhav19 noted, College Board does a great deal to ensure that the reading is consistent. To that end, the breaks are welcome respites, the food is plentiful, and the surroundings are usually pleasant (although the reading room is often chilly!). If you have the opportunity to be an AP Reader, do it!
I have marked the British equivalents, and have found it to be excellent in terms of my own understanding of what is required by assessment bodies. Whilst there are hours of tedium involved, there is always the occasional hilarious gaff that reduces you into paroxysms of laughter.
I have not been an AP reader, but I have trained and participated in online reading for an assessment program. Since my experience was all online, I think that the in person experience would be very interesting. In each case, the advantage is that you think about how you grade writing differently after the experience.
My experience has been mostly the same as the two previous posts. I read for AP literature for two years before I moved from Florida. The days are exhausting, and the essays are not always stellar, but there are lots of bright spots--both in the essays and the people one meets. If nothing else, I like rubbing elbows with others who do the same thing I do in my school, exchanging email addresses, and forming friendships with people who can help assure you when doubt encroaches about grading and best practices for teaching critical thinking as well as when parents and perhaps even admin challenge what you're doing for kids.
I agree with alot of what Brettd said. I've been a Reader for the AP World History exam, not AP Literature and Composition, but it sounds like the experience translates across exams.
Basically, you spend a week reading essays for 8 hours a day. It can feel like assembly-line work with the eyes and the brain. I don't mind it, although sometimes the afternoons drag a little (after lunch). The previous post mentioned the "factory" feel - I think it's a reasonable solution to the problem of timely assessment of thousands of essays and ensuring that everyone is grading on the same rubric.
That's worth saying more about. The first day is mostly spent making sure everyone is scoring essays in the same way. Often there are disagreements, and sometimes you might dislike the way an item has to be scored (or not). But overall the grading rubric provides a consistent scoring mechanism for essays, and it can be useful professional development to occasionally retrain yourself to notice differences in phrasing and writing.
There are regular breaks and they ETS makes a lot of efforts to make sure everyone has enough to eat, enough caffeine, and to make sure everyone has comfortable accommodations. And the stipend is good for what is essentially a week's worth of work. Plus, in addition to the attention paid to training consistent grading, there are also programs in the evening on education-related topics.
And like Brettd, there are a wide variety of people you meet. I've been struck by the friendliness of most people, and there are always people there with some unusual interest or background worth hearing about. Basically, the company's good and so are the room and board, and the work is, well, work. But I do look forward to it every year.
Well, I haven't read for AP Lit or Comp, but for AP US History, which has often been at the same site, with the same stipend, hotels, meals, etc.
It's a good experience for any AP teacher that hasn't been before, if for no other reason than it tells you what they are looking for in the exams, and helps you adjust a bit in your classroom once you have that perspective.
The days of reading are long, and the essays are typically pretty bad, with occasional bright spots. I have met some fantastic colleagues in my ten years of readings, and I've met some schmucks. I was impressed by the effort ETS goes to to assemble a representative body of readers from all age groups, genders, ethnicities and universities/secondary schools. I am a little disheartened by the "factory" feel to it all.
The pay's not bad, and the accomodations have been pretty comfortable in recent years. I'd recommend it once to anyone. After that it's up to you.
It's pretty hard and rigorous. Especially the language.
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