Review: Adequate Yearly Progress by Roxanna Elden

I worked in public education for twelve years and during that time I had a close friend who was a counselor in our Guidance Office. We would have lunch together every day and talk about how we needed to write a book about public education because people would never believe the things we have to go through on a daily basis.

In fact we stated keeping a list of things that would happen in our office each year and at the end of the school year we would go back and reflect on the year of weird things we had to deal with. The list was long every single year and the incidents increasingly humorous and at the same time sad.

When I saw this book was coming out and was written by a former educator, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it!


Roxanna Elden’s satire is a brilliantly entertaining and moving look at our education system.

Each new school year brings familiar challenges to Brae Hill Valley, a struggling high school in one the biggest cities in Texas. But the teachers also face plenty of personal challenges and this year, they may finally spill over into the classroom.

English teacher Lena Wright, a spoken-word poet, can never seem to truly connect with her students. Hernan D. Hernandez is confident in front of his biology classes, but tongue-tied around the woman he most wants to impress. Down the hall, math teacher Maybelline Galang focuses on the numbers as she struggles to parent her daughter, while Coach Ray hustles his troubled football team toward another winning season. Recording it all is idealistic second-year history teacher Kaytee Mahoney, whose anonymous blog gains new readers by the day as it drifts ever further from her in-class reality. And this year, a new superintendent is determined to leave his own mark on the school—even if that means shutting the whole place down. (summary from Goodreads


When I was first pitched this book, I actually thought it was going to be non-fiction but then it actually ended up being fiction, although the accuracy of the story was spot on. I have witnessed so much of the things that went on in this book from one degree or another. I mean, there was just so much realness in this book when it came to the characters, the issues of standardized testing, the pressures from administration….so much realness that I was having a hard time believing that it was a work of fiction. Because seriously people if you don’t work in education, you would think this is fabricated, but if you work in education you know it absolutely is NOT a fabrication that educators face.

I will say that some of the writing in this book was a little trite with underdeveloped dialogue, as a whole I was captivated by the truth of the classroom and education system as a whole. I know that some people have argued that this book attempts to make light of the state of our schools and the issues, and while yes the book is humorous at times, I do not think it’s meant to make light of the issues at all. Having worked in education myself, you almost have to laugh at how ridiculous the situation is otherwise you just get burned out.

To be honest, burn out was one of the reasons I left public education when I had my son. I love the students but the expectations and undermining of the ‘rules’ to achieve graduation quotas or state testing requirements goes against my personal moral code. This book captured all those issues and so much more. If you are a teacher or educator you absolutely need to read this book. While it is fiction, there can be no denying there is truth in its fundamental message.

Book Info and Rating

Paperback, 400 pages
Published February 11th 2020 by Atria Books
ISBN 1982135026 (ISBN13: 9781982135027)
Free review copy provided by, Atria Books, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: contempo fiction, humor, general fiction, satire


One thought on “Review: Adequate Yearly Progress by Roxanna Elden

  1. Hallo, Hallo Anne!

    – we read this the same month!

    I was also given this book to me by the publisher and I ended up sharing how realistically the story was shown from a different POV; that of a past student who knew more than most about the internal world of educators. I am unsure if it was due to speaking with my teachers and faculty over the years or just by observational means, but I knew how telling this book was simply through my own memories and experiences. I am uncertain who would think it was being fabricated unless their IRL experiences as a student in schools did not mirror or match the ones described but for those of us who lived those experiences it holds a certain level of heightened truthfulness.

    You can read the fuller thoughts I’ve expressed on its behalf if you want to visit my review.

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