Saturday, September 27, 2014

Changes to the AP U.S. History Exam

In light of recent suburban Colorado teenage protests regarding the censorship of U.S history in school, I thought I'd post an older article I wrote for a site that may explain why this is just now (allegedly) occurring in Advanced Placement courses. Only this year, teachers were given more freedom in creating their own lesson plan which is great if you are Mr. Keating and terrible if you are Professor Umbridge.

Image source: Warner Bros.

I will always find an applicable Harry Potter reference. Always.

Changes to the AP U.S. History Exam
by Chelsea McInnis
April 7th 2014

The AP U.S. History Exam for the 2014-15 school year is ch-ch-ch-changing? Fear not, students and teachers: we will give you the lowdown (and it's not as bad as you think). 

Up until now, the AP U.S. History curriculum covered all of the nation's past. Lack of narrowing down U.S. history to specific topics put pressure on teachers to cram nearly 500 years’ worth of history into their lesson plans to prepare students for any possible exam scenario. In the end, student's brains were bursting with historical facts and figures, leaving little time for analysis or interpretation. It's like knowing the ABCs but not being able to form words. Or something.

The newly-designed AP Exam allows teachers to devote more time interpreting major historical events instead of the usual half-a-millennia marathon. The changes reflect the curriculum of today’s college history courses. Now, focus will shift away from the 19th century and concentrate more on the nation’s beginnings in the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as modern history of the 1900s and onwards. Buh-bye War of 1812, Abolitionism, Manifest Destiny, and Civil War. We will miss you. Teachers and students now have the opportunity to explore topics in greater or lesser depth. See? Teachers are happy. Students are happy. Everybody wins. The new exam also gets rid of a long essay question (yay), but adds short answer and additional multiple-choice questions in its place (boo).

Teachers: To prepare for the changes, read the new AP U.S. History Course and Exam Description, become familiar with the AP Course Audit process for deadlines of submitting your new syllabus (yes, you need a new one, we are sorry), and make plans to participate in professional development to receive support in planning. You can then plan a farewell party for your previous well-developed syllabus that you have nurtured and raised over the years. 

Students: enjoy your summer while it lasts.

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