Wait For the AP US History Test Scores

It is unclear where this latest round of anti-intellectualism will end in connection to the new AP US History curriculum. As many of you know more than one state is considering legislation that would ban the the course. The accusations are on the whole vague and reflect a commitment to teaching a certain narrative of American history rather than encouraging students to develop the requisite skills that would allow them to draw their own conclusions.

As far as I can tell the accusations being leveled at AP teachers across the board by Republican lawmakers come with not one visit to an actual classroom.

That’s just part of the problem. The bigger problem is twofold: The College Board has not done nearly enough to explain to the general public just what its curriculum is designed to accomplish. If interpretation is the central focus of the new curriculum, the College Board has done a poor job of interpreting its own work for interested parties and the public as a whole.

More importantly, history teachers must be more proactive in articulating what they are doing in the classroom. It’s not enough to deny the absurd claims that they are teaching a certain narrative of American history or that they are encouraging their students to hate their country. They must be able to explain what the teaching of history involves.

Finally, what almost everyone has left out is the fact that this is the first school year in which this new curriculum is being taught. At the end of the year tens of thousands of students from across the country will take the first AP test. If Republican lawmakers want to demonstrate the dangers in the curriculum why not wait for the results? Let’s see what students know and don’t know about their history. More importantly, let’s see what we can learn about how they think about their nation’s past.

Let’s hold our lawmakers to the same standards that AP history teachers do with their students. Let’s look at the evidence and draw conclusions based on careful interpretation.

CraterThanks for reading this post. Scroll down, leave a comment and join the conversation. Follow me on Twitter and join the Civil War Memory Facebook group for continuous updates and additional links to newsworthy items from around the interwebs. Stay up to date by subscribing to this blog’s feed. You can also check out my recently published book, Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder.

7 comments… add one
  • Brad Feb 27, 2015

    Unfortunately, those people, as Lee might say, are heading into the election cycle or posturing for it and this is probably only the beginning of this nonsense.

  • Andy Hall Feb 27, 2015

    If Republican lawmakers want to demonstrate the dangers in the curriculum why not wait for the results? Let’s see what students know and don’t know about their history. More importantly, let’s see what we can learn about how they think about their nation’s past.

    Do you think that will make a difference to the folks who are in a twist about the new curriculum? It seems to me that if the kids do well (i.e., their test performance reflects the curriculum content), that will simply be seen as evidence of how insidious and dangerous the curriculum really is, from their perspective.

    I think you’re entirely correct that the people squawking the loudest are poorly (or likely, not-at-all) knowledgeable about the actual curriculum (see also: Common Core), but that’s never been an obstacle to complaining that academic content is vaguely un-American, or using it as an excuse for demagoguery and political grand-standing.

    • Jerry McKenzie Feb 27, 2015

      That is exactly it!

    • Kevin Levin Feb 27, 2015

      Hi Andy,

      I am under no illusions about the nature of these accusations. Like I said in the post, I just would like to see more people (especially my fellow history teachers) stand up for and accurately explain what it is that we do. We don’t teach politics and we are not in the business of indoctrination. Anyone who believes this simply does not understand the AP curriculum and the discipline of history.

  • Jimmy Dick Feb 27, 2015

    It is important to realize that one of the main whiners about the course is a guy who is losing money because of the changes. Larry Krieger is a former AP history teacher who wrote guides for the course. He has made a lot of money from those guides. You can go to Insider Test Prep for them. The pedagogical changes make his guides useless. Krieger has been fanning the flames of the left/right divide trying to force the board to change the course back.

    Basically Larry Krieger has lied with his accusations. Several people have fact checked his claims and found them to be incorrect. This is really about the money. Krieger is lying so he can protect his income stream.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 27, 2015

      Like I said, we should hold those making these accusations to the same standards that AP teachers hold their students. Provide the evidence and an interpretation of the evidence, which is why I don’t understand why they don’t wait to see the scores and the tests. The new test will require more writing than the previous iteration. We should be able to see just what they know and how they understand the American past.

  • Doug didier Mar 19, 2015

    Well.. If you look at the attempts to improve k-12 education by the federal govt. Since 1965. They have all failed. Taking the Finnish model, need to double teachers salary, and get out of the way.

    As a side, their are MOOCs for a lot of ap tests. One missing is history.

Leave a Comment