Adequate Yearly Progress

Atria. Feb. 2020. 400p. ISBN 9781982135027. pap. $16.99. F
DEBUT Educator Elden’s first novel (See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers) follows teachers and administrators through a year at Brae Hill Valley, a struggling high school in a large Texas city, as they navigate the latest “improvements” to the system. The district hires a flashy educational reformer as its superintendent, resulting in more paperwork and superficial requirements on top of state-mandated testing. Lena, the poet English teacher, and Hernan, the science teacher, are well liked by their students; they joke through faculty meetings. Maybelline, a single mother who teaches math, is a rule-follower outraged that no one else is taking the new requirements seriously. Kaytee is an idealistic first-year teacher who blogs about her crusade to right as many systemic wrongs as possible. The author’s choice of names and chapter and section titles signal her intention to satirize the education system, but her characters are fully fleshed humans who struggle in their personal lives and to reach their disadvantaged students.
VERDICT This novel provides an entertaining and humane story of what it’s like to teach high school. Already a hit with teachers when it was self-published in 2018, it will appeal to anyone who enjoys humorous workplace narratives.

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