Advanced Placement United States History – Period 9: 1980-Present
ThemeThis course examines the history of America from 1491 to present day. Throughout the course, students will learn about the political, religious, social, economic, and diplomatic events that have shaped United States history through the critical analysis of primary and secondary materials. The course is designed to encourage students to become historians and researchers who are able to use historical facts and evidence with the goal of creating deeper conceptual understandings of critical developments in U.S. history. Students will learn to weigh evidence and interpretations as they build their factual knowledge of U.S. history and apply those facts analytically to draw conclusions about the issues that shaped and continue to shape this country.
As the United States transitioned to a new century filled with challenges and possibilities, it experienced renewed ideological and cultural debates, sought to redefine its foreign policy, and adapted to economic globalization and revolutionary changes in science and technology.
1. A new conservatism grew to prominence in U.S. culture and politics, defending traditional social values and rejecting liberal views about the role of government.
I can show how reduced public faith in the government’s ability to solve social and economic problems, the growth of religious fundamentalism, and the dissemination of neoconservative thought all combined to invigorate conservatism.
I can analyze how conservatives achieved some of their political and policy goals, but their success was limited by the enduring popularity and institutional strength of some government programs and public support for cultural trends of recent decades.
2. The end of the Cold War and new challenges to U.S. leadership in the world forced the nation to redefine its foreign policy and global role.
I can understand how the Reagan administration pursued a reinvigorated anti-Communist and interventionist foreign policy that set the tone for later administrations.
I can explain that following the attacks of September 11, 2001, U.S. foreign policy and military involvement focused on a war on terrorism, which also generated debates about domestic security and civil rights.
3. Moving into the 21st century, the nation continued to experience challenges stemming from social, economic, and demographic changes.
I can show that the increasing integration of the U.S. into the world economy was accompanied by economic instability and major policy, social, and environmental challenges.
I can analyze how the U.S. population continued to undergo significant demographic shifts that had profound cultural and political consequences.
1: A. Public confidence and trust in government declined in the 1970s in the wake of economic challenges, political scandals, foreign policy “failures,” and a sense of social and moral decay.
1: B. The rapid and substantial growth of evangelical and fundamentalist Christian churches and organizations, as well as increased political participation by some of those groups, encouraged significant opposition to liberal social and political trends.
1: C. Conservatives enjoyed significant victories related to taxation and deregulation of many industries, but many conservative efforts to advance moral ideals through politics met inertia and opposition.
1: D. Although Republicans continued to denounce “big government,” the size and scope of the federal government continued to grow after 1980, as many programs remained popular with voters and difficult to reform or eliminate.
2: A. President Ronald Reagan, who initially rejected détente with increased defense spending, military action, and bellicose rhetoric, later developed a friendly relationship with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, leading to significant arms reductions by both countries.
2: B. The end of the Cold War led to new diplomatic relationships but also new U.S. military and peacekeeping interventions, as well as debates over the nature and extent of American power in the world.
2: C. In the wake of attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, U.S. decision-makers launched foreign policy and military efforts against terrorism and lengthy, controversial conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
2: D. The war on terrorism sought to improve security within the United States but also raised questions about the protection of civil liberties and human rights.
3: A. Economic inequality increased after 1980 as U.S. manufacturing jobs were eliminated, union membership declined, and real wages stagnated for the middle class.
3: B. Policy debates intensified over free trade agreements, the size and scope of the government social safety net, and calls to reform the U.S. financial system.
3: C. Conflict in the Middle East and concerns about climate change led to debates over U.S. dependence on fossil fuels and the impact of economic consumption on the environment.
3: D. The spread of computer technology and the Internet into daily life increased access to information and led to new social behaviors and networks.
3: E. After 1980, the political, economic, and cultural influences of the American South and West continued to increase as population shifted to those areas, fueled in part by a surge in migration from regions that had not been heavily represented in earlier migrations, especially Latin America and Asia.
3: F. The new migrants affected U.S. culture in many ways and supplied the economy with an important labor force, but they also became the focus of intense political, economic, and cultural debates.
3: G. Demographic changes intensified debates about gender roles, family structures, and racial and national identity.
Students will be required to produce written synopses of the chapters to help them establish their basic conceptual knowledge of the concepts of the unit that is being studied. Any lack of understanding will be dealt with throughout the teaching of the unit. Daily feedback will be given in class as part of the ongoing assessment of students’ abilities and comprehension. All summative assessments will be utilized in a formative manner as well as a summative manner.
Students will be required to produce evidence of mastery of content materials through a variety of methods. They will take multiple choice exams, complete document based questions, and answer short response/essay prompts. These evaluations are patterned after the type of exam they will complete for the College Board in mid-May. These assessments will provide students definitive feedback in how well they are mastering the material and what work they need to do to be prepared for the Advanced Placement Exam.
America Past and Present, by Divine. (At the time of this writing, we are going through the textbook adoption process and this is likely to change.)
Various primary source excerpts and documents
A History of the American People, by Paul Johnson
The nature of the course is already enriched as the expectation is that the content and materials are equivalent to a college freshmen survey course. Some strategies for enriching the course further would be to read any of the books on the resources list, obtain full length versions of excerpted primary sources, or explore the Miller Centers website which contains a series of academic essays on each president and covers more details than the College Board requires.
Depending on the unit, a variety of integrations will be utilized. Definitive links will be made with the English department in terms of coordination of writing as well as passages, texts, short reads, and novels that are being utilized in the English classroom. Math will be used in analyzing statistics most often pertaining to elections but not solely. Scientific discoveries and developments will be integrated throughout the discussion of the process of creating modern America. STEM will be incorporated specifically in discussion on industrialization and wartime production. Geography will be a constant as we use maps to illustrate the geographic changes to America and the changing electoral process as well as utilizing world maps for understanding America’s growth as a super power. Visual arts will be used consistently throughout the course in the nature of how art reflects American ideals as well as the importance of political cartoons as a political tool.
Students struggling to succeed in Advanced Placement United States History must first determine if the coursework is too difficult for their abilities. Many students struggle with the volume and level of reading required for success in this course. In those cases it is suggested that a student consider purchasing a study guide book for the Advanced Placement Exam to help them with their reading comprehension. These books outline key concepts in a simple form which helps the student when reading the textbook to focus on main ideas. Students struggling with writing should set up an appointment to meet with the teacher to discuss writing strategies and should also consider meeting with the English and History academic assistants. Students who are struggling with multiple choice exams should make an appointment to come in to go over old exams to get a better idea how to take the multiple choice exam and guide their studying for future tests. Visiting the College Board website for the Advanced Placement United States History exam will provide the student with an additional resource if they are struggling.