Thursday, June 4, 2015

APUSH Re-Redesign

In August 2014 the College Board, non-profit organization which oversees the Advanced Placement courses and exams which enable high school students to earn college credit, launched the redesigned version of their AP United States History program. The redesign process took nearly 10 years; I received regular updates via emails, summer professional development, the annual reading/scoring session for the essays students wrote for each year's test, and periodic visits to the College Board's website. The redesigned curriculum framework had been almost finalized for about 3 years but activation of the new course was delayed until the final details of the structure of the new exam was settled.

Almost instantly various radicalized partisan groups began complaining about the redesign. The loudest and most vocal of these groups happened to be fringe conservatives who have their own agenda they'd prefer to push within academic settings. These fringe conservatives just happened to have allies within various state legislatures and/ local school boards and began an assault on the redesigned APUSH framework. Early efforts were focused in Texas, moved to Jeffersom County Public Schools in Colorado, and then within Oklahoma and Georgia in the winter/spring 2015 session.

I wrote this guest post on the okeducationtruths blog to contextualize my thoughts on the outbreak of the APUSH attacks with my home of Oklahoma --> click this link

To summarize a long story of a hard fight...teachers, administrators, students, parents, and those who care about quality education raised such a fuss (with the help of local, national, and international media support) that the House version of the bill met a a quiet death and the Senate version never saw the light of day. APUSH in Oklahoma survived for far.

JUMP forward to the June 2015 APUSH reading. During the Open Forum, in which College Board leadership shares information and then holds a Q&A with the teachers who are in attendance, it was announced that a re-redesigned version of the curriculum framework was set to release at the end of June 2015. In an effort to calm the complaints of these radicalized partisan groups (including a handful of less vocal liberal voices), the redesign team went line-by-line through the framework seeking to edit any of the descriptive terms which served as "low hanging fruit" which had been latched onto by these groups as "proof" of their claims that the College Board was seeking to push a political agenda within the framework and teaching of the course. Some additional language was edited/added/deleted to help clarify to teachers the intent of some key concepts which unintentionally ended up being ambiguous.

The newest version of the APUSH framework will be available to the public on the College Board's website by July 1, 2015.

The hope is that the attacks from these agenda pushing groups will be squelched. I share the same hope because I fervently believe that the APUSH course in its [re-edited] current form does more to 1) teach in-depth topics of American history using the latest scholarship and 2) develop critical thinking skills for students to use in historic study, other/all future academic pursuits, and as a life-long learner.

MY PRAYER is that Representative Dan Fisher, Senator Josh Breechen, and others of their ilk with the Oklahoma and other state legislatures will actually take the time to legitimately read the re-redesign framework before using anymore of their cookie cutter pieces of legislation.

The students and teachers of Jefferson County Public Schools in Colorado for your spirited leadership with your fight and for your encouragement and support within Oklahoma's fight;
The amazing teachers, APUSH and others, within Oklahoma (#oklaed) who stepped up to defend the integrity of our course and what you do within your classrooms...and for stepping into a media spotlight as appropriate;
Trevor Packer, College Board Vice President of AP programming, for the leadership and support which you and your team offered within a host of places around the country this year and your encouragement to me personally (I've witnessed #Proof that you care).
In my eyes, you are all my heroes and rock stars of quality education!

So now, let's finish the last three days of this reading strong as we reward our students for their strengths on the Short Answer and Essay portions of this exam. Let's relax some to allow our minds and bodies to recoup from the stresses of Redesign 2014-2015. And let's spend an appropriate amount of time prepping for Re-Redesign 2015-2016.


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