Friday, September 19, 2014

Texas and AP US History

This is definitely a "non-psychology post," so please just scroll past if you are not at all interested in Advanced Placement courses and "politics."

If you're still reading this, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the recent "history wars" involving the revamp of the AP US History course. I'm a bit surprised (naively, probably) about the controversy surrounding US history. I thought the news stories would die down after a while, but recently the Texas Board of Education (not a local district board - the STATE board) voted that students "not be taught to the national test."

Texas Moves To Override New AP History Course

Why post this here on TeachingHighSchoolPsychology? The answer might be "you shouldn't" but there are at least a couple issues that are relevant to psychology teachers (especially AP Psychology teachers):
  • This may be another example of policy makers misunderstanding assessment score use. Assessments, like the AP US and Psychology exams, are built for a specific purpose. In this case, they are supposed to measure whether or not high school students acquired the knowledge/skills that college students do in their introductory courses. College Board does a lot of work trying to measure whether or not the tests do this ("comparability studies"). Test validity is a score USE issue, not an aspect of a test. If the Texas school board objects to the skills/knowledge measured on the AP US History test, are they objecting to how history is taught in their state funded colleges? It's much easier to pick on (and control) high school teachers and students...
  • Eventually AP Psychology will get a "re-vamp" and this controversy makes me wonder what we are facing in that process. Who gets to decide what "appropriate" skills/knowledge are for an advanced placement student? Will policy-makers assume expertise and authority in psychology as they are doing in history? 
My quick ending, emotional summation: Ugh.

posted by Rob McEntarffer

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you Rob. Politics is a part of education whether people want it to be or not. And not paying attention to what is happening in other states or other subjects would be short-sided.

I also agree that it is easier to pick on high schools than universities in terms of these political battles.

I think we need to be more proactive in bringing a voice from teachers and classrooms to these public discussions so we can better educate the parents and legislators who, with good intent or not, seem to be misinterpreting what we do and using it to fight political or social battles.