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BCCE 2022 AP Symposium debrief

August 11, 2022

Just over a week ago I attended the George R. Hague Memorial AP/IB Chemistry Symposium at BCCE 2022 (quite what IB has got to do with anything that was presented I have no idea).

The purpose of the symposium is essentially three-fold. To give a platform to the College Board to pimp their propaganda (Jamie Benigna’s job); to allow the CB shills to speak for short periods (15-20 mins) on AP chemistry topics of their choice; for the Chief Reader new in 2022) to break down the May 2022 exam. The first two have little or no interest for me, but the latter is always worth listening to. Having said that, even those “words of wisdom” have become increasingly less interesting over the years, with almost every word uttered being utterly predictable. Anyway, here are a few notes on the things that were said, and how they lined up with the preview that I wrote prior to the symposium.

So the acid-base presentation was on 8.6, and yes it was all about stability via resonance and electronegativity causing electron ‘dispersal and the inductive effect. Nothing to report. Other speakers said (I’m paraphrasing here) amusing things such as, “you’ve all heard of Johnstone’s triangle, right?” Errr … no, never; “the science practices are essential to teaching AP chemistry“, Errr … no, they’re absolutely not, they’re simply a natural consequence of teaching properly; “Storyboarding is the only way to get the kids score well on the exam.” Storyboarding – LMAO!; “CER is of utmost importance.” Err … I’ve never used it and it’s not affecting scores, so …

On to the more important de-brief of the 2022 exam. I say “more important”, but in the end there was very little of interest here. What I did make a note of is below.

  • 47.3% of students fail – but you knew that anyway!
  • Q1 Average score = 4.45 and part (a) was the sig fig question. We all know that the phrase “human error” is never acceptable for describing the anomalies in experimental results, but I think that Kyle Beran’s use of the term, “look for chemical sources of error” might be a useful phraseology to pass on to the kids
  • Q2 Average score = 5.30
  • Q3 Average score = 4.59. In part (a) the words “complete configuration” CAN include a noble gas config. for full credit. The excuse given was that they were trying to avoid valence only configs, but to my mind “complete” implies not using noble gases. In part (c) there was a necessity for a word like “mix”, “sir”, “dissolve” etc. to appear, in order to suggest some effort in creating a homogenous solution – that’s reasonable I feel
  • Q4 Average score = 1.42
  • Q5 Average score = 1.32
  • Q6 Average score = 1.98
  • Q7 Average score = 1.05. Don’t be too alarmed by this, it’s typical, with almost 50% of kids failing the exam, a LOT of students have basically given up at this point in the exam

As you can see, very few notes this year, and this is increasingly the case. The exam is staggeringly predictable in all aspects, as are the scores, the strategies, the correct answers, and the pitfalls. Of course there is still a real advantage to being in the room when the de-brief is done, even if we know that this will likely be delivered as an AACT webinar in the fall. You get to see body language, nuance, and hear tiny  nuggets like Lew Acampora (I think it was him, apologies if I am mistaken) reminding us that readers only see black and white scanned copies of scripts, i.e., that any color references to “red or blue lines on diagrams” and the like are a completely meaningless thing for readers.

There were approx. 33 people in the room for the majority of the symposium, at least 11 of whom are in the CB cabal. There are 1000’s of other AP Chemistry teachers in the US, so the ratio of who’s getting this information first person is quite staggering. There’s a really small, clique-based cabal of about 20 people who are the anointed by the CB to speak publicly about AP chemistry. I’ll never do the CB’s bidding, but so many of the vocal crowd are literally in the employ of the CB, as readers or other hangers on. There are so few independent voices holding them accountable. For those reasons, the thousands of other AP chemistry teachers need advocates who are not CB shills to bridge the gap. That’s my job. Hang around, I’ll keep you posted.






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