Sunday, June 24, 2018


No Roman Empire. No Mongols. No ancient Chinese dynasties or early Indian states. And you can forget about the Incan and Aztec empires before the Europeans dropped their anchors. That’s a sample of what would be missing from the Advanced Placement World History exam if the College Board, the nonprofit organization that owns the A.P. program, follows through with a plan to start the test material at the year 1450.

The board’s announcement last month that it would drastically revise the test prompted a swift backlash from history educators across the country, many who assert that the move would turn the course into a meditation on the rise of the West. “They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” said Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, president of the World History Association and a former developer of the exam and course.

The College Board is reconsidering its decision in response to the vocal opposition, Trevor Packer, the head of the organization’s A.P. program, said in an interview. The board is now weighing moving the start date to “several centuries earlier” than 1450, he said. The final decision will be announced in July.

The College Board’s original plan would have split A.P. World History into a two-year course, with the first year covering material from before 600 B.C.E. to 1450. Mr. Packer said the plan, set to take effect starting in the 2019-20 school year, was based on feedback from teachers that they struggled to cover 100 centuries of material in one year.

Other world history teachers fear their diverse groups of students will lose the chance to learn about Asia, Africa and the Americas before European dominance. Amanda DoAmaral, who taught A.P. World History for five years in Oakland, Calif., said she valued the way the curriculum allowed students of color to learn about eras in which empires other than those in the West were in power.

For other world history purists, the only correct syllabus is the current one. All 10,000 years of it.


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