APUSH Resources: Documents, Commentaries, and Critiques

Glenn Ricketts

Last Fall, the College Board’s new AP US History course became effective, and it is now the standard for high school students seeking to earn college advanced placement credit in US History.  For those students who succeed in earning AP credit, this will probably be the last course in American history that they will ever take. This one will thus stand as the conceptual lens through which they apprehend the central events and characters in American history.  We’ve been following and participating in the growing national debate over the APUSH standards which, although being introduced without fanfare by the College Board in October 2012, have generated increasingly stormy controversy.   The standards have been debated in a number of state legislatures, and in September, the Texas Board of Education announced that the APUSH course would not be used in that state

On July 31 2015, in response to public criticism, including the letter signed by 129 historians and teachers published by NAS in June, The COllege Board issued a revised and updated version of the APUSH course, to be used in 2015..  The teaching materials, bibliography and other supplementary materials wiill also be revised to reflect the changes in the course.

We present here a compendium of source materials, commentary and analysis, which we will update periodically as the national debate continues. 

APUSH Course Materials

The actual APUSH course, containing the lesson plans, thematic framework and exam questions for high school AP history courses.

The revised, updated APUSH course published by thhe College Board on July 31, 2015.

Open Letter by Scholars Opposing New APUSH Standards

The text of an open letter of June 2, 2015, signed by 55 prominent historians opposed to the new APUSH course.


A list of some of the most frequently asked questions about the APUSH standards, the College Board and the growing controversy in the national debate that has arisen in local school districts, state legislatures and US history teachers.

Articles and Commentary published by NAS

  1. Look What the College Board Has Done to U.S. History, by Peter Wood.  A first take on the new AP standards by NAS President Peter Wood.


  1. The New AP History: A Preliminary Report, by Peter Wood.  In this article, Peter Wood examines the new AP course in greater detail, and considers its probable impact.


  1. Why Conservatives  Are Up in Arms About the College Board’s AP History Course, by Peter Wood.  Offers History News Network readers an explanation of conservative dissatisfaction with the APUSH course.


  1. APUSH and Speaking in Educational Code, by K.C. Johnson.  Brooklyn College historian sees the APUSH course in conflict with the standards and goals set by many local school boards and high schools.


  1. APUSH and the American Founding: Concepts Supplant History, by Joseph F. Kett.  University of Virginia historian argues that the APUSH course emphasizes concepts at the expense of content, and will leave students without the basic information necessary to understanding the U.S. Founding.


  1. APUSH: Tempest in a Teapot?  by Jonathan Bean.  US Historian from Southern Illinois University sees some disputable aspects of the APUSH standards, but plenty of room for instructors to set a correct course.


  1. APUSH Post-Civil War Coverage: History Lite, by John C. Chalberg.  A long-time instructor in US history at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, MN finds the APUSH post-Civil War coverage simplistic and ideologically one-dimensional.


  1. Push-Back on APUSH, by Robert Paquette.  An academic historian describes his experience with the local high school, where his son’s AP history teacher added political advocacy to the curriculum.


  1. APUSH, Not Common Core, Threatens Concept of American Exceptionalism, by Kevin Brady.  A view of the APUSH standards by veteran of both the high school and college classroom, who fears that most AP teachers will stick to APUSH’s politically skewed lesson plans.


  1. Knowledge of American History Rapidly Becoming History, by Glenn Ricketts.  An examination of recent educational statistics documenting an appalling lack of knowledge of American history among K-12 students.


  1. APUSH Update: Lynne Cheney’s Return, by Peter Wood.  Discusses the impact of a recent critique of the APUSH standards by Lynne Cheyney, a long-time advocate for better education in U.S. history.

Miscellaneous Articles and Commentary

  1. New Advanced Placement Framework Distorts America’s History, by Larry Krieger and Jane Robbins.  Krieger, a retired AP history teacher and Robbins, an educational researcher, initiated the national debate over the new AP standards with this article.  Krieger also produced a more detailed critique as well.


  1.  The New History Wars, by James R. Grossman.  A defense of the new AP standards by the executive secretary of the American Historical Association.


  1. Putting Politics Ahead of Facts on AP US History, by Susan Griffin.  A response to criticism of APUSH in Texas by the executive director of the National Council for the Social Studies.


  1. Exchange of Open Letters between David Coleman and Critics, August 2014.  College Board President David Coleman responds to criticism of the new APUSH standards, and his critics rejoin.

Cmmentary and Analysis of the Revised APUSH Course of 2015

1. College Board Announcement of the revised APUSH course.


2.College Board's explanation of the revisions.


3.  Revised AP U.S. History Standards Will Emphasize American Exceptionalism, by Zoe Schlanger, Newsweek, July 29, 2015


4. Statement by the College Board in response to Newsweek article, July 30, 2015.


5 .APUSH Revisions Won't Do: College Board Needs Competition, by Stanley Kurtz, NRO, July 30, 2015.


6.  Surprise - The New AP U.S. History Framework Is Scrupulously Fair-Minded, by Frederick M. Hess and Max Eden. NRO, Jul 30, 2015.


7.  Conservatives Convinced College Board to Rewrite American History, by Lyndsey Layton,, Washington Post, July 30, 2015.


8.  Revisiting History, by Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Education, July 31, 2015.


9.  Revised U.S. History Curriculum Addresses Criticism, But Conservatives Still Object, by Christina Littlefield, Los Angeles Times, July 30, 2015


10. After Facing Backlash, AP U.S. History Course Revised to Emphasize American Ideals, by Rebecca Klein, Huffington Post,,July 30, 2015.



Image: Pixabay, Public Domain

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