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AP US History exam standards clash with the Common Core
TUESDAY, AUGUST 12, 2014 10:32 AM

Students on an accelerated track in high school have the option of taking Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Ideally, these classes are similar to regularly tracked ones of the same name, but go further in depth and present a greater challenge. Additionally, students in AP classes have the option of taking an AP test at the end of the year. The exam is a rigorous standardized assessment that tests students' knowledge of the course material. Getting a good grade on the AP exam has a dramatic impact on students' collegiate future - many colleges accept a high AP score in place of comparable introductory college courses.

For this reason, taking AP classes and doing well is important to many students. However, AP teachers now face a new challenge. The College Board, which administers AP exams, has updated its U.S. History standards, and they aren't compatible with the Common Core State Standards. 

Teaching the double standard
The AP U.S. History (APUSH) Framework was developed years ago, but has recently been brought into the educational spotlight. The College Board will fully adopt it in 2015. In fact, the APUSH Framework outline notes that beginning with the May 2015 exam, the test will not measure knowledge that falls outside of the test's standards. This presents an issue for teachers who must comply with the Common Core State Standards. AP educators must still meet their states' requirements during the course of the class, but also have to prepare their students for the APUSH exam. 

AP students already have the challenge of completing their accelerated course - now the clash of learning two standards could be a little much. At least, that's what educators and administrators fear.

Responding to misgivings
The College Board is aware of the double-standards dilemma and has taken steps to ease the worries of educators.The APUSH Framework emphasizes flexibility, noting that the exam is designed to test history knowledge, not just facts and dates. Ideally, if students learn the important events they need to, the exam will accurately measure their understanding, whether the teacher used Common Core Standards or AP standards. The Framework states that the test questions will assess a student's knowledge of "thematic learning objectives." However, many educators aren't sure that the theory will pan out in practice.

"The Framework also insists that the exam must be used to illustrate the themes and concepts behind the official College Board vision," Stanley Kurtz, conservative commentator, told Breitbart.