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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Going AYP

Roxanna Elden’s Adequate Yearly Progress is an entertaining — and often infuriating — novel about a Texas high school coping with a celebrity superintendent, a clueless consultant, endless test prep, incomprehensible acronyms, Creepy Santa and a Waiting for Superman-style documentary.

The story is told through the point of view of several teachers, the football coach and the beleaguered principal.

Alexander Russo calls it “one of the best education book I’ve read in years,” because “it captures so many of the issues, dynamic, and realities of how schools work and what working in one must have been like over the past whirlwind of a decade.”

Elden, who has 11 years of experience as a classroom teacher, is the author of See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers.

Her novel aspires to be “like the TV show The Office, but set in an urban high school,” she told Larry Ferlazzo in an Ed Week interview.

Teaching stories tend to follow one dedicated hero battling the odds to save her students – usually in spite of all the less heroic adults around her. Or, for humor purposes, they used the inverse of this: an irresponsible train wreck who says inappropriate things to students and has a bottle of tequila in her desk drawer. . . .  I hoped to show educators as they are: A diverse group of sometimes-heroic, often-flawed, and occasionally-hilarious humans doing a complex job no one has quite figured out yet.

For years, Elden had persuaded “a handful of high schoolers” to participate in National Novel Writing Month, she told Ferlazzo. “Participants commit to writing the first words of a novel on the first day of November and finishing a 50,000-word first draft by midnight, November 30. . . . Then, one year, one of them said, ‘How about you, Ms. Elden? Are you going to write a novel?’ I can’t imagine a better way to get started writing fiction.”

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