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TrekNorth teacher helping to develop AP exams

Mike Munson, a TrekNorth Junior and Senior High School teacher, has been named to a national committee to help develop future Advanced Placement psychology exams. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI – A TrekNorth teacher has been named to a national committee to develop future Advanced Placement psychology exams.

Mike Munson, who has taught at TrekNorth Junior & Senior High School since it opened in 2003, will serve five years on the exam-development committee, composed of three AP high school psychology teachers and three college professors.

“It’s a great benefit, I think, to my students,” Munson said of the prestigious assignment. “The students are going to benefit from this and that’s really what it’s all about.”

The collaboration with committee members alone will make him a better teacher, he noted.

“The intellectual stimulation is going to be great,” said Munson, who prior to joining TrekNorth taught 19 years at Bemidji High School. “I’m really looking forward to my first meeting in September.”

High school students can earn college credit if they score high enough on an AP exam. Typically, they take the test at the end of a high school AP course on that subject.

Exams are scored from 1-5. Nationally, students in 2010 averaged a score of 3.11 on the AP Psychology exam. Munson’s students last year averaged a 4.84.

“Mike is a tremendous teacher who gets results that are really, really rare,” said Dan McKeon, executive director of TrekNorth. “If you’re in AP Psych in his class and you show up and pay attention, you will do well on the exam.”

With his committee assignment, Munson this year will meet three times with members of the exam-development committee.

Between meetings, they must develop lists of potential exam questions.

Munson now is working on a list of 20 potential questions to bring to the September committee meeting. At home, he has a list of 250-300 potential questions.

“It’s a process of developing, critiquing and rewriting questions,” he said.

The AP Pysch exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions and two free-response, or essay, questions. While computers score the multiple-choice portion of the exam, a combination of AP teachers and college professions gather annually to score the essays.

In 1999, Munson became an AP Pysch exam “reader” to judge the essays.

“It’s the best teachers in the country, the best professors in psychology,” Munson said. “The conversations can’t help but make you a better teacher.”

In 2008, he was named a table leader. Table leaders pull random exams scored by exam readers to ensure consistent scoring.

“It’s stimulating,” Munson said. “It’s the best teacher preparation that one could ever have, condensed into a week. It’s just a great gift.”

Last year, he was asked to apply to for the exam-development committee for the psychology test. A phone interview was followed by a three-hour in-person interview with Bill Tinkler, associate director of AP curriculum and content development at the College Board.

Munson received a positive recommended and was appointed to serration and was appointed to five one-year terms.

“We for nine years have benefited from Mike’s experience with AP, his drive to be a really, really good AP teacher,” McKeon said. “I teach AP as well and I know that I’ve improved the way that I teach my AP class by listening to him, by watching him teach his AP class.

“To have somebody on staff who understands AP that way is invaluable to our school.”