Fight Over Politics in AP U.S. History Guide Misses the Point, Historians SayHistorians in the News
Liana Heitin is an assistant editor for Education Week. Her beat includes curriculum and instruction across the content areas. She also covers the states of North Carolina, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Louisiana, and is co-author of the blog Curriculum Matters.
This week, I wrote about changes to the Advanced Placement U.S. History curriculum framework—a second iteration of changes, really, since the document was initially updated in 2014.
I noted that historians, for the most part, are happy with the new document. Several who'd examined it (some of whom represent larger groups of historians) told me they thought it was fair and a good foundation for teachers who will assuredly, and necessarily, add facts, figures, and events throughout the course.
One thing I heard from several historians in my reporting, though, was that focusing on the content changes between the 2014 and 2015 frameworks was really missing the larger point: Both the 2014 and 2015 documents are significantly better than what came before them.
Prior to 2014, the AP U.S. History framework was only five pages long, and it read like a vague list of topics. Teachers were very unclear on what would show up on the culminating test, so they felt compelled to teach a bit of everything. The course became all about memorization. (That framework, though technically released in 2010, hadn't gone through a major revision in a very long time. The course content stopped at about the 1990s.)
The 2014 revision was closer to 80 pages long, and gave teachers more guidance on what to cover. It underscored historical thinking, crafting arguments, and evaluating historical evidence, rather than just memorization. ...
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