AP World History Curriculum Sees Substantial Cuts

by Sarah Perez

Advanced Placement (AP) World History is a vigorous course covering past events from around the world starting from 8,000 B.C to the present day. Unfortunately, the demanding class has caused problems among both students and teachers. They are concerned that the course may be too strenuous for students due to the amount of information that is required to be taught. As a result, the College Board has established significant changes to the class.

The curriculum for AP World History has always begun with students studying ancient civilizations. The course would start during the Paleolithic Era in previous years. This year, however, the starting point of the course has been changed, with it now beginning in the more modern 13th Century. With the curriculum, came a change with the name of the course. The adjustment has been in planning for approximately three years and has finally been established this 2019-2020 school year.

     “The college board actually gave it a new name: Modern World History,”  said AP World teacher Miriam Rivas. “The university system said that there was no such thing as an AP World History class that covers everything.”

Rivas is the only AP World History teacher in West Broward and teaches three class periods of the course. A reason for the change was for the class to better replicate preexisting college courses. Classes that are usually provided at colleges do not completely cover all of World History in just one class. As a result, the course was reclassified to AP Modern World History.

    “There is either Ancient World History or Modern World History, so that’s why they decided to scrap the Ancient stuff from the course and start at the 1200s,” Rivas said.

    Another reason for the cut was the student workload. AP World History teachers have been worried about the amount of coverage the class has required in the past. They are concerned that they are teaching too much information that is not in-depth enough for students to successfully master the course. Students are also overwhelmed with the vast covering of the course.  

“It’s beneficial to have a smaller curriculum to learn with more in-depth information than a larger one with vaguer information,” said sophomore Gracie Kaye.

In theory, the decrease in the curriculum should lessen the amount of information needed to pass the course and, overall, solve most of the problems caused in the past. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Both teachers and students are finding it difficult to figure out where to assemble the beginning of the course. In order to understand the new developments in the 13th Century, one must recognize the continuations beforehand. The starting point in the 1200s includes the study of civilizations in Africa, the Americas, and Asia. Recognizing the continuations before this era is a prerequisite for effectively understanding the unit.

“At first we were trying to begin at the 1200s, but we found ourselves going back to try to set up changes and continuities from before,” Rivas said. “I think the thing that I was having difficulty is how do I set up the stage for the students without replicating the original curriculum.” 

Because of post-secondary World History classes being separated into Ancient and Modern eras, in the future, there may be a new AP World History course that centralizes on Ancient World History. College Board executives are still in the midst of confirming the support of colleges and student interest in schools. 

“In the future, they are going to take surveys and if there is enough student interest, they’re going to open up another AP World that is going to focus on Ancient History,” Rivas said.

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