Texas Board Members Wary of Changes to AP History Program

By Liana Loewus — September 17, 2014 2 min read
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The Texas state board of education is considering requiring Advanced Placement U.S. History courses to follow the state curriculum rather than the framework laid out by the test developers, reports the Associated Press.

The College Board’s new framework for the AP course has been in the news quite a bit recently. The Republican National Committee publicly condemned it, saying it distorts American history by emphasizing negative aspects. The College Board responded right away by releasing a full-length practice test and clarifying that the framework was just that—a framework—and that teachers are welcome to populate it with other content.

Ken Mercer, a Republican on the Texas board, has been an especially vocal opponent of the U.S. history framework. The Dallas Morning News reported in July that he asked the board to delay the framework and test for at least a year “while state officials determine whether they violate a 2013 law that prohibits the teaching of common-core materials in Texas schools.” Texas is one of four states that never adopted the Common Core State Standards—and the only one that passed a law specifically forbidding their adoption.

Mercer told Vice, an international magazine, that the College Board’s U.S. history framework doesn’t include enough on the nation’s military victories. Of his own high school history courses, he said, “Those great generals in the Civil War, crushing Germany in World War II, that’s all that really stands out to me.”

According to the Associated Press, some Texas board members sought to block the new AP exam statewide, but the board lacks jurisdiction to do so. If the board did delay implementation of the new AP U.S. history program, which it is set to vote on this week, students would be taught the state curriculum but still take the national AP test.

AP U.S. History is one of several Advanced Placement programs that have been, or will be, redesigned to more closely reflect the Common Core State Standards. As we’ve written, another popular national test by the College Board, the SAT, is also undergoing revisions to become more reflective of the common standards, which the group’s president, David Coleman, helped write.

This all brings up an interesting question: If national exams that have high stakes for graduates are more aligned to the common-core standards, how will students in states that are not using the standards fare?

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.