College Board changes AP World History curriculum


Annie Laster

Stacks of AP World History textbooks sit in the AP World History classrooms. They are not updated, and classes will use them starting at page 300.

World History is one of the requirements for Grady graduation, and many students opt to take the course as an Advanced Placement class. This school year, the course has changed to AP World History: Modern, cutting out almost 12,000 years of human history. The decision comes from the College Board, the governing body over all AP classes. Sara Looman, has been teaching the class for seven years, and this is one of the biggest changes made to the class. 

“The old curriculum went from 10000 BCE and the birth of human civilization to roughly 2000 CE, and now it goes from the year 1200 CE to the present,” Looman said. 

The College Board changed the curriculum to cut down on the content students need to learn.

“I think it is a great example of the old adage, ‘don’t ask for what you want, you might get it’,” Looman said. “A lot of AP World History teachers will whine that it’s too much, and that they can’t get to all the material.”  

Looman thinks that the hardest part of this change will be the units at the beginning of the school year and knowing how much context to give before teaching. 

“It’s hard, making a judgment call about how much background to go into without essentially changing the course,” Looman said. “I think after we get through these introductory units, it will right itself … getting started has been a little bit of a challenge.” 

The gap in the class, from 10000 BC to 1200 CE,  will be covered by another AP class, AP World History: Ancient, that is yet to be designed by the College Board. This is another challenge for Grady. 

“Students are going to have to choose between AP Ancient and AP Modern or take two full years of AP World History,” Looman said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it’s going to be interesting.”

Junior Ellen McClain took AP World History last year and thinks the new curriculum is much better.

“It’s less stuff to learn, which will probably make it easier,” McClain said. 

Sophomore Dorien Laurens is currently taking the course with Looman, and she thinks the course will be both simpler and more difficult.

“I think that the changes will make the class easier in terms of new information that needs to be learned, but harder in terms of putting things in place in the big picture,” she said. 

Laurens is not pleased with the changes in the course. 

“I’m really interested in ancient histories and how they developed and contributed to the societies that we have today,” Laurens said. “I think that by starting in 1200, we are missing a good majority of almost all those ancient civilizations, and also a lot of fundamentals, because history is something that builds upon itself.”

Many of the students in AP World History didn’t find out about the change until the first or second day of school. Sophomore Will Charlop was one of these students. 

“I just felt kind of surprised, because I didn’t know that they would change it out of nowhere,” Charlop said.  

Overall, the change in curriculum will change the experience for current and future students interested in taking AP World History. 

“I have great faith in our students,” Looman said. “We should do well.”

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