10 Thoughts on the New AP U.S. History Framework

Sep 8, 2014 by

Rick Hess –

The College Board’s revision of the AP U.S. History curriculum framework has ignited a firestorm. The new framework was released in 2012, but it’s only drawn notice in the past few months. It’s been blasted as an ideological rewrite of U.S. history, with critics providing examples and raising questions that have given me cause for concern.  As a former high school social studies teacher, this is an area that strikes close to home. I’ve been holding off on opining until I had a clearer grasp of things. Now I feel like I’ve got it, so please excuse the length of today’s post–it’s too long, just because I feel like there’s a lot to say.

On Thursday, the College Board’s Trevor Packer was kind enough to visit with me at length. (Packer is senior vice president for AP and instruction, which means he oversees the College Board’s Advanced Placement program.) Packer explained that the new curriculum framework is the first rewrite for AP U.S. History in recent memory, with the new 80-odd page framework displacing the five-page topical framework that had been in place for decades. Packer says that the effort started in 2006 as a response to concerns that the U.S. History test was a grab bag of historical trivia, driven by the personal agendas of higher ed faculty who submitted the questions, and forced teachers to skim through so many topics that they couldn’t teach deeply or well. The rewrite process was driven by a set of volunteer history professors and teachers. An initial committee generated a list of “must-teach” topics. The College Board sent these to fifty-odd professors for reaction. That cut the list down considerably. A second committee took that handiwork and revised it. The result was an extensive and reasonable process, but one that, I fear, was allowed to reflect the biases and blind spots of participants. Here are 10 thoughts I have on the new framework:

10 Thoughts on the New AP U.S. History Framework – Rick Hess Straight Up – Education Week.

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