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AP U.S. History Significantly Changes for 2015

New curriculum framework has been released by the College Board for their Advanced Placement U.S. history course after it earned criticism for 2014’s framework, particularly when it came to its handling of American identity. 

According to a statement released by the College Board in late July, the revisions are “clearer and more historically precise, and less open to misinterpretation or perceptions of imbalance.” 

The main complaints came from conservative party members who saw the course’s framework as biased and anti-American. In 2014, the Republican National Committee got involved. They passed resolution that claimed the framework was "radically revisionist." 

After facing the intense pressures of organized protest from various conservative angles, including many history teachers, the College Board took the advise, and announced the new less “biased” framework at the begging of this month. 

So, what are some of the changes? 

Several key standards of 2014’s framework can be identified as significantly altered in tone when looking at their counterparts for 2015. 


Here are just a couple: 

On the idea of white superiority within the system of slavery…

2014 AP U.S. History Framework Standard:

“Reinforced by a strong belief in British racial and cultural superiority, the British system enslaved black people in perpetuity, altered African gender and kinship relationships in the colonies and was one factor that led the British colonists into violent confrontations with native peoples.”

2015 AP U.S. History Framework Standard:

“As chattel slavery became the dominant labor system in many southern colonies, new laws created a strict racial system that prohibited interracial relationships and defined the descendants of African American mothers as black and enslaved in perpetuity.”


On Native American degradation…

2014 AP U.S. History Framework Standard:

“By supplying American Indian allies with deadlier weapons and alcohol, and by rewarding Indian military actions, Europeans helped increase the intensity and destructiveness of American Indian warfare.”

2015 AP U.S. History Framework Standard:

“The introduction of guns, other weapons, and alcohol stimulated cultural and demographic changes in some Native American societies.”


The College Board has consistently defended the older versions of the course while taking their diplomatic approach. In an open letter, the noted that advance nature of the coursework is well-suited to there teachers handling it in the classroom. 

"Many of the comments we have heard about the framework reflect either a misunderstanding of U.S. history or a very limited faith in history teachers’ command of their subject matter. The Curriculum Framework was written by and for AP teachers - individuals who were already experts in U.S. history and its teaching,” the letter reads. 

The letter also states, however, that: 

“The motivation to redesign AP United States History came first and foremost from AP teachers, who repeatedly expressed frustration with the way they believed the AP U.S. History course prevented them and their students from exploring in any depth the main events and documents of U.S. history. Scholars of teaching and learning in history, and history teachers themselves, felt that the AP course provided too little guidance about what might be on the AP exam, causing them to rush their students in a quick march through a list of historical events. There were too few opportunities to understand the ‘why’ of U.S. history, and or to make its deeper meanings come alive to students.” 

A story that ran on National Public Radio highlighted several other changes that the College Board made, including edits to the section on World War II which is now explaining the patriotism behind the was within the context of “freedom” against “fascism” over last year’s focus on the development of the atomic bomb and Japanese internment camps. 

Another key change the story highlighted was the description of Ronald Reagan in 2014’s version, where he was called "bellicose" toward the Soviet Union. In 2015’s version he engages in "a buildup of nuclear and conventional weapons."

"They took something I felt was already good and I think they made it great," said David Burton, chair of the social studies department at Southmoore High School in Moore, Oklahoma to The Huffington Post in an article on the framework changes.

He admitted to lean conservatively in the article, but also noted that there wasn’t a reason to suspect “conspiracy” in the new framework, which many conservatives are still heavily criticizing as liberally biased. 


For more on the new AP U.S. History curriculum framework, see it here. For more on the story, visit here and here


Article by Jason Papallo, Education World Social Media Editor
Education World® 
Copyright © 2015 Education World

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