NCH Issues Statement on the Revised AP History Framework

In recent months, the newly developed framework for the Advance Placement (AP) in U.S. History exam, issued by The College Board, has sparked controversy across the country. On September 3, the National Coalition for History sent a letter to the State Boards of Education in eight states (Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas, Colorado and Nevada) supporting the efforts of The College Board in trying to make the AP History course and exam more flexible and reflect ongoing developments in scholarship.

The AP U.S. History exam is meant to provide high school students who have already displayed an advanced level of knowledge in the subject the opportunity to take a college-level course, that earns them college credit at many universities.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) recently adopted a resolution criticizing the revised versions of the curriculum and exam even going so far as to demand a congressional investigation into its development. In addition, conservative organizations have joined the chorus and are engaging in grassroots opposition to the AP Framework and exam at the state and local level. State Boards of Education are being asked to delay implementation of the exam or scrap it altogether.

The opponents maintain that the teaching of “traditional” American history, e.g. the contributions of the Founding Fathers, and the theme of American exceptionalism, are being deemphasized in the curriculum in favor of so-called “revisionist history” which paints America in a negative light, rather the apocryphal “City Upon a Hill” of John Winthrop.

The College Board responded to the criticism by explaining how the framework had been revised in response to demands from educators at the local level wanting greater flexibility in teaching the course. The College Board even went so far as to release the fall 2014 practice exam to allow opponents to see that their criticisms are not borne out by the actual course and test.

The American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the National Council for History Education have also issued separate statements on the issue.

In addition, AHA Executive Director Jim Grossman recently had an op-ed published in the New York Times on the topic.