Greetings from the AP® Psychology Reading
By Elizabeth Yost Hammer, PhD
Psychology is a vibrant and growing subject in secondary schools today. In May 2013, over 238,000 students took the AP Psychology exam. (This is pretty amazing when you consider that fewer than 4,000 students took the first test in 1992.) Further, over 450 college and high school teachers came together in Kansas City, Mo., to grade the free-response portion of the exam. As the current Chief Reader for Psychology, I can attest that this process (called The Reading) has increased my psychological knowledge base, enhanced my teaching skills, and broadened my professional network more than I would have thought possible.
Question: What is the AP Reading like?
Answer: AP Readers arrive on site and are assigned to one of the free response questions. Readers are trained by their Table Leaders, on a specific, well-designed rubric used to maintain reliability in the scoring. And then, they read essays...a lot of them. In the evening there are plenty of professional activities, including a Professional Night Speaker (past speakers include David Myers, Diane Halpern, and Wayne Weiten, to name a few), an Open Forum hosted by the College Board, and teaching exchanges. There are also many social opportunities, including baseball, museums, and cultural events. Of course, Readers always take in the sites in Kansas City during their time off.
Question: Why would anyone want to be an AP Reader?
Answer: There are many reasons:
- Secondary school Readers can receive certificates awarding professional development hours and continuing education units (CEUs).
- Readers become familiar with AP scoring standards, which provide valuable knowledge for scoring your own students' essays.
- All Readers are provided with an honorarium, and travel expenses, lodging, and meals are covered.
- The reading provides opportunities to exchange ideas with faculty, teachers, and AP Psychology Development Committee members.
- In addition, readers establish friendships within a worldwide network of psychology teachers (college and secondary school) who care deeply about teaching and students’ learning.
If you are interested in applying to be an AP Psychology Reader, you can access an online application at the following Educational Testing Service site.
Elizabeth Y. Hammer, PhD, is a Kellogg Professor in Teaching and the Director of the Center for the Advancement of Teaching at Xavier University of Louisiana. She is an APA Div. 2 fellow.
College Board’s Advanced Placement® (AP®) Program allows students to take a college-level course while still in high school, typically offered by one of their own teachers. AP teachers receive training to increase their expertise, and university faculty and other, veteran AP teachers develop curricular standards for the Program that ensure a college-level experience (College Board, 2013). It is important to note that for the AP Psychology Program these standards recapitulate those of the American Psychological Association’s Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major (PDF, 447KB).
Students who master the material can take a specialized AP Exam to earn college credits. Each college/university sets its own guidelines for credit acceptance. The AP Psychology Exam consists of a multiple-choice section and a free-response (essay) section. (Above, Dr. Liz Hammer explains how the free-response section is scored.) Each subject’s AP Exam is developed by content experts, including college and high school Development Committee members, the Chief Reader, and Educational Testing Service (ETS) assessment specialists.