AP USH Syllabus

Advanced Placement United States History
In accordance with school board policy, I am attempting to make this course entirely "paper-less."  Posting the syllabus on-line is another step in that direction.  If this presents a hardship for you, please let me know and I will provide you with a paper copy.  I will likewise keep a paper copy posted in the classroom.

Course Guide and Syllabus, 2019-20


Doug Jones
Enka High School
Department of Social Studies
(828) 670.5000


This course is intended to provide students with the analytical skills and factual knowledge to perform at the highest possible level on the United States History AP Exam.  It is likewise intended to prepare students for intermediate level college courses by following an academic standard comparable to a first-year survey course.  With this in mind, students are expected to master the factual knowledge of the course while learning to interpret and evaluate relevant primary and secondary material.  Students will be challenged through a range of written and objective assignments to demonstrate their ability to process evidence and draw conclusions in a clear and sophisticated manner.  For a more detailed overview of the curriculum framework mandated by the College Board and a complete unit guide, follow this link.

Core and Supplementary Texts

Kennedy, Cohen, and Bailey, The American Pageant, 16th Edition

Amsco, United States History: Preparing for the AP Exam 

Outside Reading

One outside reading assignment will be required, though others may be completed on an optional basis as we move through the course.  These will generally be limited to works of historical non-fiction illustrative of a particular historical period or phenomenon.  The required supplemental text is Dee Brown's, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (1970) and will be assigned in mid December.  Very cheap, used copies of this text can be obtained on-line.  The edition that you purchase is up to you.


Homework will consist almost entirely of reading and study assignments, with an occasional outside essay or take-home test.  Students are responsible for completing and mastering assignments on time.  All assignments will be clearly posted on the course schedule.  

Make-Up Work

Students are accountable for obtaining assignments missed while absent, and for making up in-class quizzes, tests or exams before or after school.  All assignment are available from the course schedule, which also includes a complete test and exam schedule for this course.  To receive credit (and according to school policy), missed assignments and exams must be made up within three school days of a students' return from absence.

Additional Help

One-on-one conferences will regularly be offered for all students related to particular writing assignments.  Aside from these scheduled opportunities for individualized instruction, your instructor has made office hours available after school each day between 3:00 and 4:00 pm - time specifically allotted for this purpose.  If these hours do not suit your schedule, please see your instructor to arrange an alternate meeting time.

National Advanced Placement Examination

The Advanced Placement Program of the College Board affords students the opportunity to earn college credit (a value that could exceed $8,000 depending upon the college or university) by passing the AP Exam in US History at the end of the academic year.  This year's exam is scheduled for Friday, 10 May 2019, and will NOT be changed regardless of our school's calendar adjustments.  For this reason, we will keep to a very strict and precise schedule throughout the year to ensure that students are well prepared by early May.  

Honor Code

Students at Enka High School are held to the highest standard of academic honesty and integrity.  For that reason, students may not provide or accept dishonorable assistance on any course assignment.  Violators will receive a zero for the assignment in question and will be referred for disciplinary action consistent with school and school board policy.  Violators will also have their status or membership in honor societies revoked.

Course Grading

AP US History is a year-long course with students attending class each day through both the Fall and Spring semesters.  Students will be assigned a cumulative mid-term mark for US History at the end of each semester.  For specific grading policies and rubrics, please review the Course Policies Page

Core Structure for Historical Essays: Parts and Functions

Free-response assessments, or essays, make up a significant portion of your course mark, and 50% of the AP Exam.  For that reason, AP US History is a writing intensive course that will emphasize written fluency and expression as they relate to critical reasoning and argumentation.  The key parts of a historical essay, or the Core Structure, are listed and defined below.    

Thesis Statement: A Thesis Statements is a clear and concise answer to a writing prompt that accomplishes three essential functions: 1) it directly answers all parts of the prompt, 2) it clearly establishes the writer's position, and 3) it establishes clear categories of analysis - which is simply a logical, step-by-step organization for answering the prompt through a series of arguments (each separate argument being a new paragraph).  Thesis statements can be introductory in nature, but they should quickly get to the point, and they should not typically exceed 2-3 sentences.

Topic Sentences: Each paragraph or argument should begin with a Topic Sentence that reflects a particular category of analysis indicated in the Thesis.  It introduces this new argument and answers the prompt relative to this particular argument.

Specific Factual Information (SFI): factual information, such as names or historical events, that are used to prove or support a particular argument.  SFI is the evidence.

Interpretive Commentary (IC): a clear explanation of how or why a particular piece of SFI proves your argument or your thesis.

Clincher Sentence: the closing thought for each paragraph that restates the argument and that re-emphasizes the conclusion that you have drawn, based on the evidence you've provided, in the preceding paragraph.  

Synthesis Paragraph (Conclusion): After completing your argument, you should conclude with a synthesis paragraph that is intended to extend your argument in some manner.  On the AP Exam, you can earn an additional point on your essay responses just for completing this relatively simple step!  You can extend your argument by EITHER: 1) explaining how the topic of your essay relates or connects to a similar topic or theme from another period of US History, or by 2) explaining how the topic of your essay relates or connects to a similar topic or theme from another US geographic region, or by 3) explaining how the topic of your essay illustrates some broader or recurring trend in US history.  Your synthesis paragraph (typically 2-4 sentences) is supposed to extend your argument, so it's understood that it will go beyond what the prompt commands you to do.