Adequate Yearly Progress

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Dec 2018

Member Reviews

I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Lena is a teacher in a low performing school where a for-profit company has taken over curriculum.  Great read for teachers who will relate to the "latest and greatest" approach to education..

I highly recommend this novel.
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It's really hard to give this book only three stars.  I read it on the heels of finding out that, as a librarian who TEACHES CLASSES, I'm not eligible for performance bonuses by our school district.  It's a tough blow and a lot of money I won't see.  No matter how long I'm in the library, I was a classroom teacher long enough to never NOT feel like one. I was a highly effective teacher every single year, but suddenly, as a librarian, I'm nothing to my district administration.  And even though that's not Roxanna Elden's, nor her beautiful book's, fault, it affects my feelings and review on this book.  
This book is witty and clever.  It has descriptive, interesting prose. It has twists you might not see coming.  The only thing is...it's accurate.  Too accurate to be enjoyable reading for me.  Educators today face unbelievable obstacles.  We are asked to climb mountains without any provisions or supplies.  We are asked to finish every race in first place without funding and support to maintain our race cars.  We take, on our shoulders, the responsibility of the whole child, often providing what is lacking at home.  And that is more than work.  And often, more than one mama, teacher, person can handle.  This book highlights all that and tries to add levity and humor to lighten that load.  And it succeeds!  I just can't laugh.  I can't relax into it and enjoy it.  It's too real and too sad.  It's too much reality.   
But this is a creative book.  Major kudos to Roxanna Elden for being able to expertly write lightheartedness and amusement into the dire situation of today's public education.  Many will be able to do what I can't and will really enjoy this book.
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I’ve never read a book that reminded me so much of the teachers in my life. Elden managed to capture the struggles of working in education all while sharing the highs. Her use of humour allowed for a reader to easily relate to the situations that Lena and her cohorts are faced with as they are forced to undergo the systemic changes that the new “hotshot” superintendent imposes. I would 100% recommend this book to anyone who has either worked in or knows of anyone who has been apart of the public education system.
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I am a teacher in a public school and have been for the past sixteen years. It is like someone sat in my school, every day, for all these years, and then wrote a documentary.

And this is fiction.

I can’t rave about this book enough. I loved it. I hated it. I laughed out loud and quoted passages to other teacher friends and teared up at passages detailing the struggles of students.

Every teacher should read this. Everyone curious about the struggles of teaching in public school should read this.

Adequate Yearly Progress is set in a public school dealing with the myriad problems they face. It is written with rotating perspectives by chapter so you get to see things through the eyes of several teachers and administrators. And it treats all the players with respect while still showing the darkly humorous idiocy of many decisions. It shows admin struggling under missives of a board office and their series of initiatives that make little sense and shows how teachers try to follow all the rules while still actually educating. It shows new hopeful teachers struggling with the cynicism of some colleagues as well as helping students with family issues.

It shows everyone preparing for an outside audit and the fear that creates (while still trying to actually educate students). We see the struggle of maintaining a personal life and balancing work, worry about others, and the vying for funds with charter schools.

In short, it is the teaching experience. While it’s fiction it is also, quite literally, the most accurate portrayal of teaching I have ever read.
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My kids are in public schools and I have so many teacher friends and am always interested to hear all of their stores. This book was like my friends stories on steroids. So much bureaucratic ridiculousness goes on in our public schools and I loved the author's take on it. Can't wait to recommend this to my teacher friends to read!
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Some are calling "Adequate Yearly Progress" The Office of public education. However, In AYP, the sad thing is, anyone in public education will recognize almost every character and event. The focus on test scores tied to teacher performance, strategies for raising test scores that don't equate to skills needed for the real world, competing charter schools that take money away from schools that need it the most, thinly disguised Betsy DeVos and superintendents without a shred of educational experience, academic "consultants" with only a few years of teaching experience and unsupportive administrators. AYP is a dramedy set in an urban Texas high school. Katy is the young TeachCorp second year teacher enthusiastic and optimistic  and determined to make a difference with her students, Lena is struggling with the mandates best practices of the day, test question of the day and strategy of the day that don't fit her lessons. in addition to a relationship, Hernan is the  non- unionized science teacher, Coach Ray is the football coach father figure trying to keep his players out of trouble and healthy enough to get college scholarships and Maybelline, who follows the rules except one.  There is some humor in this book, but the more one reads, the more disillusioned one becomes with the state of public education in some states. The readers feels the pressure the principal feels to raise test scores and make sure each "believer" scores match test scores, while wanting let teachers teach. Non-educators may think the "Believer scores" that rate teachers' belief in their students' success and the excessive mandates are extremely exaggerated for effect, but sadly, some states are that test-driven. Ms. Elden takes the reader of Adequate Yearly Progress on a roller coaster of events and emotions concerning public education, offering insight into the reality of class size, lack of materials, poor building conditions,  long days and weekends, ineffective administrators, frivolous meetings and regulations, little to no support for discipline problems and high-stakes standardized testing with superfluous data collection. Despite all the challenges, AYP ends with hope.; which is what teachers have for each student they teach.
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Adequate Yearly Progress may be the truest work of fiction I have ever read.  The conversations between characters in the book mirror those I have seen and heard in my own school.  The bureaucratic games, the expectations, the professional development...everything is spot on!

I have recommended this book to many colleagues and I plan on buying copies as holiday gifts.
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Adequate Yearly Progress is a wildly funny novel about teaching in a large district. The book is complete with three sets of standards required to be written on the board each period, a new superintendent savior with no real classroom experience or expertise, and the whole range of teachers that you have seen in any building. I laughed so hard I cried in parts. If you have ever been involved in a large district with myriad initiatives, you will love this book. If you have ever thought about teaching, you will love this book. If you like funny, you will love this book. While the book is hilarious, it highlights the key challenges of working in a large bureaucracy trying to serve low-income students. It is an entertaining story and critique of the system, which can fail students.
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This highly satirical novel set in a Texas public high school is absolutely hilarious and a perfect fit for anyone in the education world.....at least those who can see the current test-heavy state of ed for the insanity that it is. Pitch perfect, biting and incredibly relatable, this was an amazing book to inhale in my first few days back to teacher inservice. If you aren’t a teacher, definitely give it a shot, but do know that the majority of the humor may not be apparent.
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Adequate Yearly Progress

There were times when I taught when I was certain no one else knew what I was going through. It is strange that in a profession where you are surrounded by other humans all day long, that I could feel so lonely and isolated. Roxanna Elden gets it. Maybe because she taught for eleven years. That perspective I only get when talking to other teachers, I got here in this book as well.

The essential loneliness of the job came through to me. So many characters going through individual crises all by themselves, even when surrounded by colleagues. Lena Wright, the African American, spoken word artist, English teacher who wants so desperately for her students to see the power of language, touched me. Kaytee Mahoney, the young, overly-idealistic TeachCorps teacher, caught between the perfection of her goals and the reality of her students, embodies many young teachers I knew. Hernan D. Hernandez, the laid back science teacher, who was always tongue tied in Lena’s presence, was the teacher who pretty much ignored the testing insanity and really taught his students. Even characters that in other hands could be seen merely as antagonistic were given depth. The assistant principals were pretty much cut outs, but I have worked with so many who fit the two in this book to a T to feel disgruntled there.

Told with wit and understanding, rotating to a different teacher in each chapter, this is the story of a school in Texas that has a new superintendent, a man who has never taught but has written a best seller about how to fix education, who turns their school on its ear. Insane initiative after initiative being forced down the teachers’ throats—I thought that the continually increasing number of things they were required to write out on their boards throughout the book was a terrific metaphor for all the foolishness teachers are saddled with. 

It was a story about people. Each in their own way a dedicated teacher. Each in their own way trying to survive another year in the classroom. Each in their own way reminding me of so many I have taught with.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who teaches, especially middle and high school. It was funny and sad at the same time. I think you’ll like it.
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Adequate Yearly Progress was a great little book.  I think every educator will recognize all of the characters - every school has them!  This was a quick, entertaining read that I think all teachers would enjoy.
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As a former teacher that spent 14 years teaching students with special needs and the very daunting challenge of getting them all to pass standardized tests, I was really looking forward to this read. Unfortunately, I struggled to connect with the characters and found it very slow. I love the idea of a fictional novel surrounding the stresses, successes, failures, and all of the emotions that accompany teaching, but this one just wasn't for me.
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As an educator, I've never related to a book more in my life. Perfect for fans of The Office, teachers will recognize and empathize with all of the struggles and laughter enclosed. I found myself laughing out loud and moved almost to tears by turn. I want to shove this book into the hands of all of my teacher friends.
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This book is so timely with the new school year starting up again. It is rare for me to laugh out loud with a book, but I laughed often!  The characters are so real and relatable; I know these people. I recommend this book to teachers, anyone who loves a teacher, and anyone who went to high school!  I loved this book.
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An enjoyable read that captures all the nuances of the education system. I taught second grade for many years, and while this novel is set in a high school, a lot of the occurrences are spot on!

Thanks to NetGalley, the author and publisher for an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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I went into this book with pretty low expectations. I thought it would be like the rest of the education-inspired literature. In other words, a little entertaining, but mostly faux-uplifting with a lot of unreasonable things going on. Instead, I found a book that is actually funny and written by someone who clearly knows the education world. It does exaggerate the types of people you find in a school, but the general characters are all there. The exaggerations seem more to make a point about different approaches to modern education. Are you the crabbed old teacher who doesn't care? The nice, but ineffective? The overconfident and young? All are present along with the general knowledge that most teachers are decent, care, and work hard in a world overburdened by interests that have no idea how teaching works. If you are a teacher who has been annoyed by the ever-changing world of things to post on the board while prepping for various tests and dealing with a lot of interruptions, you will find this book amazing. Some things felt a little shoehorned to make it more of a story than a straight up commentary (I didn't care for the love interest portions for instance) but on the whole, an entertaining book.
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I taught middle school and high school English for two years after college. I happened to become a statistic by leaving teaching early, although the reason I did was primarily because of a move out of state that would have meant I would have a *third* first year of teaching. I feared I would burn out with all the prep work required, particularly given the atmosphere of the public school environment was so different from what I had trained for and taught in previously. I worked in a relatively small district that boasted two highly ranked liberal arts colleges in town, with invested parents who were firmly behind teachers, and most students had some self-motivation to succeed. Then I moved to a larger city where the graduation rate was much lower and there were metal detectors in the schools. For my own mental preservation and in acknowledgment I would likely be over my head and unsuccessful, I stepped away. 

I still have a fondness for stories that focus on teachers, so when I heard of the premise of Adequate Yearly Progress, I picked up the book. Each chapter is told from the points of view of several teachers and administrators. Brae Hill Valley High School is located in the inner city and is receiving special focus from the new superintendent, who sends in a young consultant with more power than he deserves due to his limited classroom experience.

We get glimpses into the lives of the educators inside and out of the classroom. The cast of characters includes the coach more focused on winning football games, the earnest woman from Teach Corps who is convinced she knows better than seasoned teachers how to motivate and succeed, the English teacher who is a spoken-word poet outside of the classroom but struggles to be effective when her teenage students read more at an elementary level, the rigid math teacher who maintains a thin grasp on sanity with her plastic-sleeved binders, and the acronym-loving administrators who want numbers to improve but insist on less than helpful means that actually stand in the way of progress.

I was entertained by the book, seeing aspects of myself in different characters from my short time teaching and being able to resonate with struggles in the book. There's no one hero, as everyone is flawed, but that led to a genuine story and you find yourself rooting for (and against) specific characters. It feels tongue-in-cheek at points with the various caricatures, but that may be what helped me enjoy the story. And there are embedded truths that lead to genuine reflection on how there is a huge disparity in public schools in our country, based on socioeconomic status:

"Rich kids could mess up and still go on to college. They could commit crimes and still go on to become CEOs. They could cheat on their taxes, or defraud sick people, or run banks into the ground, and leave others to clean up their messes. Hell, they could even become president.

"Meanwhile, one screw-up could transform a kid like Gerard Brown or O'Neal Rigby from a superstar into a big guy with a criminal record who did menial jobs and made authority figures nervous."

(I was given a digital ARC from NetGalley and Rivet Street Books in exchange for my honest review.)
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I loved this novel! This story is told through alternating perspectives of different teachers in the same high-needs school district. The teachers' professional and personal lives allows the reader to really see them in various lights. Reading this felt the same way as watching a workplace sitcom (i.e. The Office, 30 Rock, Parks & Rec). As a future teacher, I definitely appreciated all of the references to today's educational landscape but I would recommend this book to ANYONE. Very enjoyable read with lots of humor and emotion.
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@NetGalley #partner

Thank you to #NetGalley for the review copy of #AdequateYearlyProgress. All opinions are my own.

Adequate Yearly Progress follows the teachers throughout the year at one school. It tells their stories, their struggles, and some of their personal lives.

I liked the stories of each of the teachers. The problem was, there wasn't a lot of flow to the book. The stories didn't blend from one to the next. It was choppy and disconnected. But it was written as if it should have been a continuous story. 

As a teacher, I do think the book touched on some of the issues we face, like unfair expectations and interruptions to our teaching. 

Overall, I'd say 3/5 stars. It was good, but not groundbreaking.
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Late in Adequate Yearly Progress, many of the main characters end up at a wedding reception and find that they are assigned to a “teachers table”. The explanation is that there is a “teacher table” at every wedding, because everyone knows multiple teachers, and those teachers always want to have conversations in which no one else has any interest. I have found that to be too true. Teachers easily have a rapport with each other because we have similar experiences. We find things funny or tragic or annoying that others don’t relate to.

For that reason, I thought that Roxanna Elden’s new novel Adequate Yearly Progress would only relate to teachers and school administrators while all others would be hopelessly lost in education references and inside jokes. I was wrong. While I do believe that a teacher would get the greatest enjoyment out of this book because it would so closely match some of his or her experiences, anyone could pick up Adequate Yearly Progress and laugh through it all the same.

Elden’s new fiction book (her nonfiction See Me After Class is already a staple in schools everywhere) follows several teachers in what is meant to be a Dallas high school (although the city remains anonymous) called Brae Hill Valley High School. It is truly a humorous book, described by the publisher as The Office but set in a school. I don’t think that’s the most apt description of the humor, but more on that later. The perspective shifts each chapter, which keeps the story fresh and also keeps you waiting to see how a storyline will continue. These perspectives include a science teacher, English teacher, math teacher, and a social studies teacher, and the principal of BHVHS. The plot revolves around a big-time educational author (who of course has never stepped foot in a real classroom since he was a student) becoming superintendent of the school district and making many, many changes in the work lives of these educators.

Adequate Yearly Progress was a joy to read as a teacher because it is just so true. I found parts of myself in each of the teachers, and the problems with which they are faced not only resonated with me but were legitimately funny most of the time. While most of the characters are not humorous themselves (unlike The Office) the writing creates humor out of situations. For instance, the names of pretty much everything are meant to reflect on and make fun of different facets of the educational system. The new superintendent Nick Wallabee brings in a consulting firm named TransformationalChangeEducationalConsulting (no spaces). The district department in charge of overseeing the documentation of… well pretty much everything, is called the Office for Oversight of Binders and Evidence of Implementation (OBEI). The terrible teacher in the school is even named Mr. Comodio. Yes, like a toilet. That was probably the funniest series of things in the book, along with the running joke of the number of things they require the teachers to write on the board every single day and the last-minute nature with which teachers are given to implement new things. (So true y’all.)

If I had serious problems with Adequate Yearly Progress, it was that I couldn’t always tell what was exaggeration for effect and what was meant to be the observed reality of the school system. For one, I’ve never seen a school district tell teachers what curriculum standard to teach every day, which is one of the first changes made in the book. I’m not even sure who would have time to do that for each course, since different courses have different curriculum standards. Maybe that happens somewhere, or maybe that was an overt exaggeration. Also, it seems like Roxanna Elden did not run the book by anyone from Texas in the publishing process. There are no glaring problems, I would say, but there are details that do not match up to this story being set in Texas, such as a reference to the school year being divided into “9 weeks” or quarters instead of it being divided into six divisions of “six weeks”. This would have been an additional factor to work in, as progress reports come out every three weeks and add another stress to teachers.

Overall, I thought Adequate Yearly Progress was extremely enjoyable and worthy of the advance praise it has received. Teacher or not, I recommend it.

Adequate Yearly Progress releases on August 1, but it is already available for shipment on Amazon? Get it there.
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