Has the College Board Gone Too Far with Its Attack on AP U.S. History?
In Fall 2014, 450,000 of the nation’s top students will study the new Advanced Placement U.S. History’s version of America’s past – a past that is completely unrecognizable.
David Coleman, the architect of the Common Core and now the president of the College Board, which produces the Advanced Placement U.S. History Framework (APUSH), SAT, PSAT, and GED, recently reformulated the SAT.
Coleman’s latest attack on American education is the College Board’s radical redesign of the APUSH Curriculum Framework.
Headquartered in New York City and Reston, Virginia with six regional and two international offices, the College Board is a non-profit association of more than 6,000 educational institutions with a mission of promoting excellence and equity in education. The Board was founded in 1900 by twelve prestigious universities to create a standardized test to admit students based on merit. It prepares students for a “successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success – including the SAT and the Advanced Placement Program.”
In 1999, the non-profit organization was facing a cash-flow crisis. Under the leadership of former West Virginia governor Gaston Caperton, the association was turned into a profitable business – a cash cow – raking in hundreds of millions in increased student fees.
With the testing frenzy that permeates American public education, the College Board is riding on a gravy train. New York high school guidance counselor Bob Sweeney said, “The College Board is responding to the frenzy around college admissions, offering upgraded services to those who are willing to pay.…The College Board is capitalizing on the perceived and exaggerated importance of the SATs. The fees are symptomatic of the frenzy of it all, how much we’ve all put the testing and the results on a pedestal.”
There has been concern over the improvement of the College Board’s bottom line at the expense of parents and students with hundreds of dollars in fees even before application to college is made.
Former admissions dean of the University of Chicago and member of several College Board committees Ted O’Neill said, “The College Board is more interested in marketing and selling things than it is in its primary responsibility, promoting equity and educational opportunity.”
Although the instructions for the College Board APUSH Curriculum Framework do not state that it is aligned with the Common Core, the SAT is, according to its website: “All the knowledge and skills measured by ReadiStep, PSAT/NMSQT, and SAT are represented in the Common Core.”
The role of the College Board in the development of the Common Core Standards also is specified:
The College Board has been a strong advocate for and played an active role in the development of the Common Core State Standards. As part of this collaboration, the College Board helped draft the standards and helped shape the initiative by providing executive guidance on the Common Core Advisory Committee. The goal of the Common Core State Standards – to establish a common set of rigorous expectations to prepare students for college and career readiness – strongly reflects the guiding missions and values of the College Board, as well as of our programs and services.
Even though the public has been told that currently only English and Math are Common Core aligned, the Common Core State Standards Initiatives website tells a different story:
The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects (“the standards”) represent the next generation of K–12 standards designed to prepare all students for success in college, career, and life by the time they graduate from high school.
Although the Common Core was rejected by four states, the federal government has skirted the state bans by giving Race to the Top District grants to those independent school districts that agree to implement Common Core, although the name is avoided by using the descriptions found in Common Core documents.
With the new APUSH Curriculum Framework, state-mandated history guidelines are thrown out. Although the instructions indicate that the framework is “not a detailed manual for how to teach the course,” they do state in bold and underlined print that “[b]eginning with the 2015 AP U.S. History Exams, no AP History Exam questions will require students to know historical content that falls outside this concept outline.”
Nothing could be clearer than that.
AP history instructors are literally being forced to teach to the test based on the new anti-American, left-wing framework. If the instructors decide not to follow the new curriculum framework, the students will not do well on the SAT. If they do teach the new framework, it will be the last American history course for many of the students, who will have learned about America only what left-wing ideologues want them to believe.
This affects not only public schools, but also private and home schools.
Many parents and students are beginning to question the value of a college education as they consider the costs of College Board test fees, significant college debt, and perhaps the inability to find a suitable job after graduation.
The public already is enraged over Common Core. As news about the new radical APUSH Framework hits the airwaves, anger is undoubtedly going to crescendo to new decibels.
David Coleman may have gone too far this time. Should a significant number of parents refuse to allow their children to take the APUSH course and the subsequent SAT, there will be a considerable loss of money by the College Board.
There are more than 800 colleges and universities that do not require SAT scores from applicants. The trend is away from SATs, as reported by the Bucks County Courier Times. Bryn Mawr, one of the twelve founders of the College Board “… joined the ranks of other higher education institutions all across the nation that no longer require applicants to submit SAT, ACT or other standardized test scores[.] … What many colleges eventually realized is that a single test score is not necessarily a good predictor of future college performance. Critics say these tests discriminate against minorities and students from low-income families.”
With the new radical APUSH framework, others also might decide that the SAT is no longer a relevant predictor of a student’s college success.
Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. is a curriculum specialist and education and public policy writer, speaker, and consultant.