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Review: All 4s and 5s by Andrew Sharos

Title: All 4s and 5s: A Guide to Teaching and Leading Advanced Placement Programs
Author: Andrew Sharos
Year Published: 2017

Genre: Adult non-fiction
Pages: 304
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2018 Google Reading map)USA

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): At se

Review: I will confess right up front that I never taught AP courses when I was in the classroom. I have always felt that these students will be okay since they are motivated and smart, determined to well in their academics and head to college after graduation. I felt like they are like my daughter academically and I know she will do well with whatever teacher she has. I enjoyed teaching the "regular" (non-AP) students, whom I felt needed me more. 

Well, since I left the classroom I was a high school librarian and now am a Social Studies Coach and a Technology Integration Coach and I have a broader view of students, teachers, and what goes on in classrooms. I see that there are many AP students in our district who are woefully unprepared, some who don't care, and many who need a program that supports them in their quest for college. 

This book describes the AP program started by Andrew Sharos and the system he used to ensure that all of his students earn 4s or 5s (out of 5) on their AP tests. His school was a lot like the schools in my district, with a wide variety of students, many of whom come from socio-economic disadvantaged backgrounds. I don't know how much influence I can have on the district-wide AP program in our district, but here are my three main take aways from this book:

  • There needs to be a systematic way to choose the students who take AP. That doesn't mean just the "brightest" or those with the highest grades. Sharos lays out various qualifiers including a 2.5 or higher GPA, involvement in school, and qualities such as drive, grit, and work ethic.
  • Creating an AP team seems like a fantastic idea. Sharos writes that the team needs to consist of admin and teachers (including PE, music, and various subjects so that they see all sides of each student) who care deeply for the well-being and success of the students. I really like the idea of a group of caring adults consciously thinking about who is taking AP and then supporting them through the process. 
  • Relationships. This is key to all aspects of education. If we don't get to know and respect our students, we and they won't be very successful. But in the stressful AP setting I can now see this is particularly true.
Actually, I think the ideas and methods in this book could and should also be applied to non-AP courses. Having a team look out for our English Learners, creating relationships with them, encouraging them, and evaluating their progress would do wonders for those students who often get lost in our educational system. Some of our schools have begun academies to do just that so perhaps the idea might catch on for AP.

Challenges for which this counts: 

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