By guest blogger Catherine Gewertz. Cross-posted from Curriculum Matters
Stung by criticism that its new Advanced Placement U.S. history framework presents a slanted view of events, the College Board has taken the unusual step of releasing a practice exam in the subject. It also announced that it will "clarify" aspects of the framework that have prompted criticism from conservative activists.
In a letter released today, College Board President David Coleman said that he did not work on the framework for AP U.S. history, widely known as APUSH, since it had already been developed when he arrived in October 2012. But he added that he listened "with deep concern" to the issues critics were raising with it.
As we reported earlier today, the Republican National Committee approved a resolution last week condemning the framework, and conservative activists have gathered more than 1,000 signatures on a petition demanding that the College Board delay its use by at least a year.
In his letter, Coleman said he was troubled by charges that the new framework does not sufficiently address the sacrifices that American heroes have made for their country. So he decided to do something the College Board has never done before: release to the public a full-length practice exam in AP U.S. history
. In the past, such exams have been released only to certified AP teachers.
"People who are worried that AP U.S. history students will not need to study our nation's founders need only take one look at this exam to see that our founders are resonant throughout," Coleman wrote in the letter, which was sent to those who have been involved in recent discussions about the framework, including conservative activists who have been leading the charge against it.
"We hope that the release of this exam will address the principled confusion that the new framework produced," he wrote. "The concerns are based on a significant misunderstanding. Just like the previous framework, the new framework does not remove individuals or events that have been taught by AP teachers in prior years. Instead, it is just a framework, requiring teachers to populate it with content required by their local standards and priorities."
The College Board will soon release "a clarified version of the course framework to avoid any further confusion," he wrote.