The College Board’s Most Recent Changes to Education in America. (Allison Robberts and Sophia Roberts)
The College Board’s Most Recent Changes to Education in America.

Allison Robberts and Sophia Roberts

QUANTIFYING ADVERSITY AND ‘ALTERING’ HISTORY

Roughly 120 years since its foundation, the College Board continues to make headlines—for better or for worse. Now with recent changes and additions to the curriculum, many have begun to wonder whether College Board should be trusted with the ability to make life-altering decisions regarding students’ educations.

SHAPING THE ‘LANDSCAPE’ OF STANDARDIZED TESTING

The college admissions scandal earlier this year—involving 50 people in a $25 million entrance exam cheating scheme—exposed the role that wealth and race can sometimes play in education. Amid the controversy, the College Board had, for several years, been experimenting with an SAT “adversity index,” which was designed to indicate the socioeconomic advantages or disadvantages that students may have faced during their time in school. 

However, critics of the score believed the notion of reducing a student’s entire background to a single number was “an attack on meritocracy,” the Washington Post furthered.

“The SAT adversity score just seem[ed] to be College Board’s way of treating a symptom of a bigger problem,” visual senior Cassidy Zeng said. “I’m glad that they are recognizing that students across America don’t all come from the same background, and that can cause a lot of challenges [for some students].”

After many students, teachers, and parents voiced their concerns, the College Board has implemented a revised version of the adversity score on its website, known as Landscape.

The Landscape tool analyzes data points from a multitude of sources. The information is available to the public and includes whether the student’s school is in a rural, suburban, or urban location; the size of the school’s senior class; the percentage of a school’s eligibility for free and reduced-price lunches; and participation and performance in college-level AP courses at the school. Some students believe that this tool is analogous to other comparisons made in schools.

“I think the Landscape is a better solution than the SAT adversity score because Landscape gives you context,” Zeng said. “It puts you in context with the rest of your school and where you live, in a way equitable to HPA or class rank.”

MODERN CHANGES TO AP WORLD HISTORY

Another recent change from the College Board is the reconstruction of the AP World History curriculum. 17 years after the course was first offered, the AP World History course was transformed into AP World History: Modern. This new course covers content starting in 1200 C.E., cutting back on about 9,000 years of history that were previously taught.

“The College Board’s decision to change the start date of AP World History: Modern to 1200 C.E. allows students to gain global perspectives and knowledge that come with studying the rich and interconnected histories of African, Asian, Central American, and European civilizations so they can engage more deeply in these topics once they get to college,” said Rachel Jean Baptiste, Associate Professor of History at UC Davis and co-chair of the AP World History Development, included in a statement published by the College Board website.

The common complaint that seemed to emerge over several years of teacher surveys was that the class taught “too little about too much,” according to the College Board website. The change is an attempt to model the course as closely to a regular college class, which splits the 10,000 years of world history between two to three courses. Nevertheless, some teachers feel they are unable to judge whether the new course format would prove beneficial in the long run.

“I have no way of knowing whether students will be more successful—like, one year doesn’t mean anything to me,” social studies dean Wendy Zietz said. “When [students] take the test and I get the scores, we’ll see [the effect]. It really won’t mean anything until after several years so I can compare [the scores].”

Before moving the start date of the course back to 1200 C.E., College Board originally designed its new course to start from the year 1450 C.E., cutting out developments in African civilizations, the Americas, and Asia. This proposal caused “intense pushback” from AP World History teachers across the country, according to Ms. Zietz.

“Everybody freaked out, and I was one of them,” Ms. Zietz said, “because [then] it would be really easy to teach World History solely from a European, western point of view. And in the scope of 10,000 years, the Europeans are late to the game.”

However, even after adding back 250 years to the previous proposal, College Board faced retaliation, as former students didn’t turn a blind eye to the curriculum change.

“Now that you have to eliminate [thousands of years], you are essentially limited to European dominance,” communications senior Marco Muñoz said. “I really loved AP World [History]. Being someone who was very informed on European and American History, learning about China and India was really impactful for me. Seeing them remove those cultures is really upsetting.”

About the Writers
Photo of Nirmit Chandan
Nirmit Chandan, News Editor

Communications junior Nirmit Chandan is the news editor on The Muse. He loves attending Dreyfoos and is eager to further his passion in news writing and...

Photo of Annabella Saccaro
Annabella Saccaro, News Writer

Communications sophomore Annabella Saccaro is a first-year news staffer on The Muse. She is ecstatic to get to learn and interact more with the Dreyfoos...

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