Tag Archives: learning targets

Updated APUSH Curriculum- Now with Learning Targets!

29 Jan

Whether you are a fan of Common Core or local curriculum, or simply believe teachers should develop their own objectives for each course- it’s undeniable that the foundation of any good instructional program is clear learning targets.  Targets must be in place before assessment and planning can be clear to teachers and students.

That’s why I commend the College Board for updating a course near and dear to my heart with actual course objectives.  I taught AP US History when I was in the classroom.  My first year teaching it, I asked my new PLC-mates what they thought (they are awesome teachers).  Their response was, “You pretty much just teach everything- because anything can be on the AP Exam.”

Lack of specific curricular objectives made it a very difficult course to assess, and communicate progress clearly.  Students had to know everything, so discussions on progress with students and parents usually centered on behavior and task completion “They need to complete the nightly readings, to be ready for the quizzes”, “Chapter outlines must be done”, “Students must study harder”….

The exception was the essays, including the DBQ- which were more skills-based and included critical thinking.  They also had a clear rubric so students could understand the performance expectations and receive descriptive feedback from their teacher.  It was time the rest of the final assessment, and course, caught up.

From the new course framework:

The AP Exam will measure student proficiency in the historical thinking skills as well as the thematic learning objectives. Beginning with the May 2015 AP U.S. History Exams, every AP Exam question will be rooted in these specified learning objectives, relieving teachers from the pressure to cover an unlimited amount of content in their AP U.S. History course. 

Now APUSH instructors can assess and communicate student progress towards specific objectives, and student grades should become more aligned with performance on the AP exam.  Still, with the skills-based DBQ and essays, instructors will focus more on application of these objectives, versus the cramming in of “everything that happened in United States History.”