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. Continue reading “Wait For the AP US History Test Scores”

Pam Mazanec Should Have Taken AP US History Before Trying to Revise It

I’ve been following the story out of Colorado surrounding the Board of Education’s concerns about the revised AP United States History curriculum. Earlier today and following protests by both teachers and students the board backed off from any plans to challenge the curriculum in the classroom. From the beginning it was clear that the position of the board had little to do with history education, but, rather, a perception that the revised curriculum does not deliver a narrative that frames our history around the concept of American Exceptionalism. As I suggested before, it is likely that most of the critics of the new curriculum have not read it or even the version of the course it supplants. Continue reading “Pam Mazanec Should Have Taken AP US History Before Trying to Revise It”

Hey AP History Graders, This Year Share the Best of the Best

It’s that time of the year when historians and history teachers from across the country gather to grade the A.P. History exams. Over the past few years the grading process has become something of a public event as participants share the best of the worst responses to Free Response and DBQ questions. I know that this sharing is done by goodhearted people who ultimately care about education and the future of our discipline, but I have to admit that it leaves me feeling just a little depressed. Continue reading “Hey AP History Graders, This Year Share the Best of the Best”

A Few Thoughts About The AP Test

515ehdjjjqlNo surprise that the most popular search engine query this week has to do with the AP US History Test which is scheduled for Friday.  I’ve received a number of emails from students asking for tips on studying as well as from fellow teachers who are desperately trying to figure out what the DBQ will be.  I can’t tell you how depressing all of this is.  My students are visibly worried about the test and the more I focus on preparation the more anxious they become.  Part of me hopes they do well and the other part honestly has no care in the world.  It’s a strange position to be in, but one that reflects my deep antipathy for the AP curriculum.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been in a rat race to ensure that I finish the textbook before Friday.  I’ve had to run rough shod over aspects of the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the end of the Cold War to do it and it has made me depressed as hell.  Oh and that last chapter on the post-9/11 period…well…make sure you peruse that chapter when you have some free time.  Even worse, is the acknowledgment that the last major assessment of their experience in my classroom will be a standardized test that I had no hand in crafting. There is something fundamentally wrong with this picture.  My two sections have been absent half the usual number since many of my students take more than one AP Test.  This means that I am unable to bring the course to a close since the class doesn’t meet again after Friday.  Yes, it will be nice to have two weeks with a reduced schedule, but this is no way to end what has been a very intense and challenging experience for many.

I’ve tried my best to introduce my students to the study of history as well as the complexity that is U.S. History.  At the same time I’ve tried to impress upon them the extent and myriad ways in which the past continues to shape our individual perceptions and belief structure as well as the obligations we have as citizens.  Unfortunately, they are not thinking about that; rather, they are sweating over a standardized test.

So, if you are student looking for tips for Friday, all I can say is do your best and remember that any assessment of the past year ought to be about more than Friday’s results.  And, if you are a teacher looking for clues about the DBQ try to remember why we teach this subject.

This is my least favorite week of the entire school year.