Today: Toolkit and Conference Call on the Politicization of the College Board

NAS

The College Board has recently revised two of its Advanced Placement history exams, United States History and European History. Both have become more politicized. The National Association of Scholars analyzed the progressive bias of these revised courses, and we also spearheaded two national campaigns to push the College Board to eliminate this political skew. In both cases the College Board changed the exam for the better, although significant bias remains.

How did the College Board become so thoroughly politicized? What else can be done to ensure that high school students receive an unbiased, rigorous education?

Today, join us at 2:00 PM Eastern as NAS Director of Research David Randall walks through the current status of the College Board’s revised AP tests, NAS’s successes in pushing for reforms, and what else remains to be done. The College Board itself needs significant reforms, but it should also be challenged to improve its examinations—ideally by a rival assessment provider.

What: Conference call to discuss the politicization of the College Board
When: Today, Wednesday, March 27, 2019, 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern
Where: Call in to 855-369-0450 and use conference code 52-275-553 #

Below, we provide a toolkit listing the necessary improvements and how NAS members can be involved in the movement to reform the College Board.

Toolkit

Create Rigorous High School Graduation Examinations

The College Board now tests for “college readiness” rather than actual advanced placement, because state high schools do not themselves provide a test that assesses college readiness. Each state should provide a battery of rigorous, mandatory subject exams for graduating high-school seniors as a graduation requirement that also assesses college readiness. These tests will also double as a way to assess how well state K-12 schools are educating their students. We encourage NAS members to get in touch with their state representatives, to ask them to introduce legislation to enact this reform.

Reform Federal Support for Advanced Placement

The Federal Government’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides grants to states to subsidize assessment. The College Board now has a near monopoly on advanced placement assessment. ESSA should be amended to 1) require state applicants for ESSA funds for advanced placement assessment to solicit and receive bids from at least two qualified vendors; and 2) to favor state applicants who have set up a system that allows each school to integrate advanced placement assessment by multiple qualified vendors. We encourage NAS members to write the White House, their Representatives and Senators, and their local papers, to rally support for this reform.

Reform State Support for Advanced Placement

Twenty states provide support for advanced placement assessment. These states should amend their support programs to 1) require the state education departments to solicit and receive bids from at least two qualified vendors of advanced placement assessment; and 2) to set up a system that allows each school to integrate advanced placement assessment by multiple qualified vendors. We encourage NAS members to get in touch with their state representatives, to ask them to introduce legislation to enact this reform.

Condition State Support for Advanced Placement History

The College Board provides deeply politicized assessments of American, European, and World history. States should condition their support of advanced placement history classes in public K-12 schools upon the College Board revising their history exams, and revising the supporting apparatus of teacher training and textbook selection. Each state should appoint a bipartisan commission, independent of the state department of education, to formulate a proper history curriculum for advanced placement courses and assessments. If possible, multiple states should formulate a joint standard. We encourage NAS members to get in touch with their state representatives, to ask them to introduce legislation to enact this reform.

Require Test Exam Security

The College Board provides lax security for its test questions, and re-uses entire tests at foreign test centers. Cheating by foreign applicants, especially in China, is now endemic, and as demonstrated by Operation Varsity Blues, American parents are also willing to bribe SAT proctors to ensure good scores for their students.  The College Board profits substantially from offering tests whose security weaknesses foreign students can exploit to secure admission to American universities—to the disadvantage of the American students for whose benefit these universities were established. University administrations have chosen not to demand test security, since a substantial portion of their revenue currently stems from tuition provided by foreign students.

State governments should pass legislation stating that a vendor’s assessment can be used for admission or advanced placement at a public university only if:

1)      the test is used on only one day around the world;

2)      the test consists solely of new questions;

3)      the vendor provides a detailed affidavit of security procedures worldwide;

4)      the vendor provides data of assessment results, broken down by testing center, in a publicly accessible website that allows for forensic statistical analysis to determine if there is evidence of cheating; and

5)      the vendor invalidates all exam results from test centers where statistical or other evidence reveals substantial cheating.

The Federal government should condition Federal subsidies of standardized assessment on the same list of requirements.

We encourage NAS members to write the White House, their Representatives and Senators, their state representatives, and their local papers, to rally support for these reforms.

Create an AP Ancient and Medieval European History Examination

The College Board recently announced that it will add a second World History examination, covering the period before 1200 AD. It should also create a predecessor course, exam, and accompanying resources for its AP European History examination, to cover Ancient and Medieval Europe, from ca. 500 BC to ca. 1450 AD. The College Board’s current abbreviated coverage of ancient and medieval European history in its World History exam tears apart the coherent narrative of European history, and does not provide sufficient depth to cover ancient and medieval European history properly. We encourage NAS members to write to College Board President David Coleman, local papers, and high schools to encourage the creation of this new course (see NAS’s own letter here).

Further Reading: Re-re-re-revising American History” (2015)

       The Disappearing Continent: A Critique of the Revised AP European History Examination (2016)

       An Open Letter to the College Board on AP: World History (2018)

Contact: David Randall, Director of Research, randall@nas.org | 917-551-6770

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