Commentary: APUSH Course Revision


Akiyah Lee, Guest Columnist

Over the past few months, there has been a backlash against the course changes to the rather difficult class, Advanced Placement U.S. History.  The College Board has released a new frame work for the class, and the framework was to be sent to all history teachers this upcoming fall. According to multiple articles, including The Huffington Post, the new outline places more of an emphasis on concepts surrounding American national identity, the country’s founding leaders and documents, and the effective role of free enterprise in U.S. history.

How can the young students of America know where they’re going if they don’t fully know where they came from?

The College Board is the company that created the Advanced Placement program, and they stated, “Statements in the framework are clearer and more historically precise, and less open to misinterpretation or perceptions of imbalance.” In August 2014, the Republican National Committee adopted a resolution criticizing the framework for “radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects.” Another concern for the upcoming school year is the old textbooks. The College Board stated that they are not in charge of books, but hope that the revised outline gives teachers an idea of how to go about teaching the class.

As a former A.P. United States History (APUSH) student, I feel that the revision of the AP test was necessary.  I took the course and the test last year, and even though I had had previous knowledge on some chapters in the book, it was still extremely difficult to understand everything. When it came time for me to take the test, I was terrified! I had taken a very good AP English course that year; therefore, I excelled in the writing portion. However, I did not excel in the multiple choice area, and I leave that to the fact that the questions were unclear and overly challenging as opposed to what I had been preparing for all school year.

When I got my test results back finally, and although I wasn’t surprised that I failed, I was disappointed. When students study and prepare for something so big and still fail, it hurts their pride and confidence. After taking the test, I was not interested in ever taking an AP test again, for reasons such as: the price and I felt like I still wouldn’t pass. The test was based on material we learned in class, but some material was new. When I was taking the test, I was pretty confident in my knowledge but with some questions I was not. But when I think back on it, I feel like my problem was tricky questions which seemed to have multiple answers to them. Hopefully in the new framework, the answers aren’t as similar to what is intended to be the actual answer which would help with understanding and being able to eliminate the wrong answers, a skill many of my classmates and I obviously lacked.

I agree with revising the APUSH test; however, I do not exactly agree on the way they are taking out important information about America. Other conservatives agree that the information being taken out is biased towards America. As a result, students in the upcoming year and years in the future may not know the real things America has actually done: good and bad.

The fact that the board has taken out a lot of the “bad” is ridiculous. How can the young students of America know where they’re going if they don’t fully know where they came from? Of course, I’m not promoting, bashing America and American history, but certainly we can’t ignore the things that have happened by over-glorifying some important people and completely forgetting all the bad and harm some of those same people have done. Will the new framework include women’s rights in the early 1900’s, slavery in America, racism even after slavery was abolished, and the religious motivations of leaders in the American Revolution, and all the wars America has been in? Or will it only talk about the good that Abraham Lincoln did for the slaves and the Emancipation Proclamation?  I guess only the new school year will tell, but I hope that the teachers take it upon themselves to include the little things that the framework no longer includes and keep the kids out of the dark about American history in all aspects of it.