AP USH Course Policies
AP US History Course Policies, 2016-17
Policies and Scoring Rubric for the Reading Study Guide Course Segment

During the first five weeks we will be going through the entire course using the Reading Study Guide - which is actually a summary text for the Honors level US History course.  One chapter will be assigned each night through the end of September, and there will be a short essay exam each class day on the assigned reading.  All short essay questions will be posted on the schedule page well in advance for each assignment and students should seek to master the material so that they can competently answer any of these questions according to the rubric below.  I will select two of the short essay questions for their exam each day and students will be allowed 10-12 minutes to write their responses. 

Scoring Rubric for the RSG Course Segment (first 6 weeks)

Scale Score



Level 5

Both responses demonstrate impressive mastery of the terminology and context of the chapters beyond the expectations of Level 4.  Responses may also make relevant connections (continuity or change) to other periods of American history.



Level 4

Both responses demonstrate content mastery.  Responses exceed the Level 3 expectation by elaborating within the correct historical context, making 3 or 4 SFI connections, providing additional examples or details.



P4=80* (earn at least a L4 on your next Term Exam or this drops to a 77)

*one re-test is earned for a previous exam (re-tests may not be "banked").

Level 3

Both responses are complete, correct, and demonstrate content competency.  Each response should include appropriate connections to no fewer than 2 specific examples or SFI from your text.



P3=65 (earn at least a P4 on your next Term Exam or this drops to a Level 2)

R3=0-60 (your score on re-test can vary depending on its quality)

Level 2

One or more responses is/are partial or contain major factual errors.  Responses do not reflect sufficient student understanding or fail to fully answer the prompt.

No credit, eligible to earn a re-test with a subsequent 4 or 5

Level 1

Response is partial, incomplete or contains significant factual errors or omissions.

No credit, eligible to earn a re-test with a subsequent 4 or 5


What do you mean by SFI?

SFI means "specific factual information."  That includes, but is not limited to, any of the bold vocabulary words found in your RSG as well as any other specific person, event, development or historical concept that relates to a given period.  Specific dates are not considered SFI - while knowing the proper sequence of events is useful, memorizing things like dates or the amount of tea dumped into Boston Harbor is not a good use of your time.  Using facts and terminology is essential to historical writing because your conclusions must be supported by specific evidence.  So when you read and prepare for these assignments, mine the text for SFI that you can use to flesh-out your generalizations.   

What happens if I earn a 1 or a 2?

First of all, it's not the end of the world.  In APUSH I ask that students work to "master" the course content rather than to simply demonstrate competency - which is the expectation in most highschool level courses.  If a student earns a level 2 or 1 on any exam, s/he can earn an opportunity to re-test and replace that mark with a passing grade by scoring a level 4 or better on a subsequent exam.  The re-test will include the same two short essay questions that appeared on the student's original exam. 

How long do I have to exercise a re-test that I have earned? 

Students have until the day before the AP Exam (6 May 2016) to exercise any re-test that they have earned throughout the year (including those from the 1st 6 weeks grading period).  As re-tests are completed, I go back into my grade book, replace those marks and recalculate the 9 weeks average.  However, students are encouraged to exercise re-tests as soon as possible

General Policy for Course Grading

Please note that only the final grade for this course is recorded on student transcripts - 9 week averages and report card grades are not.  And while the 9 week grades are averaged together to produce the student's final grade in June, please note that no 9 week mark is final in this course until the day before the AP Exam (Tuesday 14 May 2014).  Students are entitled to earn re-tests and exercise those re-tests at any point between now and then to improve their 9 week averages.  As re-tests are completed, I go back and update those averages by replacing "0"s with the score from each re-test.  Therefore, even if a report card shows an "F" for a given 9 weeks, it is very possible to re-test and improve that mark to a C or even a B.  See below for more detailed scoring rubrics.

Policies for the Kennedy Course Segment (2nd-5th 6 weeks)
Term Exam Explanation and Scoring Scheme

On those days that you are assigned a "Term Exam," I will give you two of the listed terms at random.  You must identify those terms by completely explaining them in 2-3 sentences.  Your identification should explain how the term fits within the historical context of its chapter or period, and its overall significance to that period or to American history in general.  Using analogies or making meaningful connections with related content can help you earn the top score.

Essay Exam Explanation and Scoring Scheme

On those days that you are assigned an "Essay Exam," I will give you one of four or five essay questions provided in advance.  You must construct a well organized and well argued response to the prompt assigned.  Use the scoring rubric below to guide your study and preparation.  The best way to prepare for these essays is to write them in advance, revise and edit as needed, then review the study product that you have created.  Putting all of these steps off until the night before is not an effective study strategy.



Chapters 1-2

Assess the validity of the following statement: "The establishment and early development of the English colonies in North America closely reflect the shifting political and social circumstances in England and Europe between 1587 and 1733."


Chapters 3-4

What social and economic factors influenced the unique development of colonial culture in New England and in the South?  (Hint: Social may refer to race, gender, religion, community hierarchy, family life, education or art.  Economic may refer to trade or commerce, employment, land ownership or distribution, the gaps between rich and poor, or business and enterprise.)


Chapters 5-6

Analyze the ways that the imperial duel for North America (primarily between France and Britain between 1608 and 1763) shaped or influenced the American colonies.


Chapters 7-8

Assess the validity of the following statement: "At several points between 1763 and 1775, Parliamentary and Royal policies contributed to growing tensions between the American colonies and the "mother country" when a wiser course may have healed this rift."


Chapters 9-10

Analyze the successes and failures of the Articles of Confederation, and how the new Constitution addressed and fixed its perceived flaws and short-comings.  (Hint: the Constitution's key compromises addressed most of these flaws).


Chapters 11-12

The period between 1816 and 1824 is often labeled by historians as an Age of Nationalism or an Era of Good Feelings.  How appropriate and accurate are these terms?


Chapters 13-14

Assess the validity of the following statement: "As President, Jackson's most consistent agenda was to expand his own executive powers at the expense of the other branches of the federal government."
Chapters 15-16

Analyze the following statement: "The reform and intellectual movements sparked by the Second Great Awakening shaped Antebellum American culture by setting the political and social agendas that tended to dominate public life in the 1830s, 1840s and 1850s."  (Hint: make sure to consider EACH of the major reform movements: abolitionism, women's suffrage / rights, public education, temperance, prison reform, mental health reform, and utopian socialism).


Chapters 17-18

Analyze the following statement: "The Mexican War (its causes and justifications, the way it was waged, and the peace that followed) was a flashpoint for intense sectional tension and conflict in the 1840s."


Chapters 19-20

Analyze the following statement: "Lincoln's diplomacy with European powers was carefully contrived and intended to undermine the Confederate war effort and bring about a Union victory."
Chapter 21
Analyze the following statement: "Lincoln's personal leadership and key decisions that he made were decisive factors in producing a Union victory in 1865." Identity and explain at least three specific examples or incidents and defend your claims with specific factual information.
Chapter 22
Compare and contrast the three distinct plans for Reconstruction: Lincoln's, Johnson's and the Radical Republicans' Congressional Plan.  Which of these plans was the most practical, or the most likely to achieve a just and reasonable reunification between the North and South?  Consider that elements of some plans were extremely idealistic, while others promoted hostility and resistance.
Chapters 23-24
What specific political efforts were made during the 1880s and 1890s to restrain the power and abuses of big business, and how effective were these efforts?  (Identify and explain at least three such efforts, and use evidence to defend your claims.)
Chapters 25-26
The Social Gospel Movement and related "reform" efforts of the late 19th century had deep roots in American history, but also reflect the country's changing urban and industrial landscape at that time.  Identify and explain at least three of these efforts, their sources within US history (if any), and the specific ways that they attempted to address and correct the social problems of that era.
Chapters 27-28

What about President Teddy Roosevelt's "Square Deal" was Progressive?  In what specific ways did it answer the various demands, priorities and agendas of that era's reform initiatives.  Be sure to consider the various parts of TR's Square Deal as well as the various goals of Progressivism.


Chapters 29-30

Wilson was probably the most progressive of the three Presidents of that era (TR, Taft, Wilson).  Closely examine his domestic program and specifically explain how and why four of the following five policies were progressive: Federal Trade Commission, Federal Reserve Act, Clayton Anti-Trust Act, Underwood Tariff, Seventeenth Amendment (p. 660)


Chapters 31-32

The 1920s were a period of international isolationism and xenophobia for the United States.  To what do you attribute this attitude (what specific developments caused or encouraged it), and how specifically was this sentiment manifested in US law, society, and popular culture at the time.  


Chapter 33-34

President Franklin D. Roosevelt immediately set out to provide "Relief, Recovery and Reform" for a nation struggling through the Great Depression.  Please explain how his initiatives during the Hundred Days were intended to address the nation's economic crisis and to correct the causes of the Great Depression.  Use four of the five New Deal programs below to answer this prompt: Emergency Banking Relief Act & the Glass-Steagall Act, CCC, HOLC, AAA, NIRA
Chapter 35
Examine the ways in which World War Two affected EACH of the following groups of Americans: women, African-Americans, Japanese Americans, Native Americans.
Chapter 36
Analyze the influence of EACH of the following on American-Soviet relations in the decade following the Second World War: Yalta Conference, the Berlin Airlift, Communist Revolution in China, Korean War.
Chapter 37

Compare and contrast the Cold War policies of Presidents Truman and Eisenhower using all five of the following Cold War episodes or developments to illustrate your arguments: "policy of boldness," Hungarian Revolt, Eisenhower Doctrine, communist revolution in Cuba, the Korean War.

Chapter 38

Trace the policy decisions that sucked the US deeper into the so-called "Vietnam quagmire" between 1954 and 1968.  Examine these decisions, explain which president or presidents were most responsible for deepening our commitment in Southeast Asia, and explain the factors that apparently made Vietnam impossible to abandon. 

Chapter 39

Analyze President Carter's foreign policy efforts (with the Soviets as well as with other foreign nations).  What major objectives or goals were these policies intend to accomplish and what, if any, underlying philosophies of managing US power and foreign relationships do they seem to reflect?  Use specific examples to support your claims.

Chapters 40-41

To what extent does Ronald Reagan's rise to power in 1980 represent fundamental shifts in American foreign and domestic policy?  Use lots of specific examples to make your case.

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