AP U.S. History curriculum changes

College Board changes to AP U.S. History help students dive deeper into content


By Photo by Amber Nguyen

Student teacher Phillip Warring explains the expectations of an upcoming debate on the Hiroshima bombing in AP U.S. History.

In order to provide students with the knowledge and skills of a college level class, the College Board has  changed the AP U.S. History curriculum so that teachers will be able to focus more on the depth of a topic instead of the breadth.

According to the College Board website, “The new AP U.S. History program reflects this by reducing the time spent on the 19th century and increasing the focus on early and recent American history.”

“AP U.S. History has been very heavy on content knowledge,” AP U.S. History teacher Jeff Wieland said. “They’re backing off on the amount of specific material you need to know and focusing on larger concepts.”

However, junior Kyle Foley thinks cutting back on 19th century content is a bad idea due to the importance of our history.

“I feel like recent history might be a little bit more prevalent to the current AP student,” Foley said. “I think knowledge of the past might be even more important. The 19th century shows some of the darker portions of American history.”

Despite cutting back on content, the new changes will also allow AP U.S. History teachers the same flexibility and freedom of a college professor.

“It allows me to diversify the kinds of exercises that we normally do,” Wieland said. “I think without [the students] knowing it I can do things that I [usually] choose not to do because of time.”

To help students understand the material better, teachers will be working on chronological thinking, crafting historical arguments and other aspects of historical thinking.

Despite this, Foley thinks that AP students are already prepared for success at higher levels and don’t need to focus on these skills.

“If you’re taking AP U.S. History this year, you probably already have well-developed skills,” Foley said. “Pushing the development of skills will hold students back from learning.”

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