Syllabus ap united States Government & Politics

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2015-2016 Syllabus

AP United States Government & Politics

Social Sciences

Diana Hernandez

Room 130
Course Description

AP United States Government & Politics introduces students to the theory and practice of the American political system within the context of its democratic tradition. One objective is to make students more aware of how and why their government functions as it does; a subsidiary objective is to provide students with the skills to evaluate politics and government.

The course will begin with a discussion of democracy in theory and practice and the inherent dilemmas within such a political system. It will then turn to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States and explore their creation, philosophical underpinnings, and interpretation over the years. Particular emphasis will be placed on the basic, underlying principles of the constitutional system (separation of powers, federalism, the Bill of Rights, and judicial review) and their accordance with democratic theory and practice.

We will discuss the politics of participation. Here we examine the political process and the role of citizens within that process. Beginning with the development and maintenance of public values, attitudes and opinions, the course will explore various forms of individual and group involvement in politics and government. Then we will move to the government itself and its operation. Focusing on the institutions of the national government, Congress, the presidency and the executive branch, and the federal courts specifically the Supreme Court. How they are structured? How they work? And what impact they have on the politics and policy of our democratic society? Following this we will examine constitutional law, where we discuss the Supreme Court’s decisions in the areas of civil liberties and civil rights.

We will look at the resources, methods, and influence of the news media, interest groups, and political parties within the political system. We will also scrutinize the electoral process, the structure and conduct of elections, the campaigns, and the impact elections have on the American government.

The course will end with a deeper study of policymaking in the economic, domestic, foreign, and defense arenas. How the government and the elected officials influence and make policy and the effects and ramifications it has on the American people.

As an AP course, the expectations set for the students will be higher. Assignments will be more frequent and in depth. The focus will also be on preparing the students to score highly on the AP exam through a more in depth study including the use of primary sources. Also, students will be familiarized with the AP exam itself. They will take numerous practice exams and essays. The AP Exam is scheduled for Tuesday May 10th

Course Objectives

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

12.1 Students explain the fundamental principles and moral values of American democracy as expressed in the U.S. Constitution and other essential documents of American democracy.
12.2 Students evaluate and take and defend positions on the scope and limits of rights and obligations as democratic citizens, the relationships among them, and how they are secured.
12.3 Students evaluate and take and defend positions on what the fundamental values and principles of civil society are (i.e., the autonomous sphere of voluntary personal, social, and economic relations that are not part of government), their interdependence, and the meaning and importance of those values and principles for a free society.
12.4 Students analyze the unique roles and responsibilities of the three branches of government as established by the U.S. Constitution.
12.5 Students summarize landmark U.S. Supreme Court interpretations of the Constitution and its amendments.
12.6 Students evaluate issues regarding campaigns for national, state, and local elective offices.
12.7 Students analyze and compare the powers and procedures of the national, state, tribal, and local governments.
12.8 Students evaluate and take and defend positions on the influence of the media on American political life.
12.9 Students analyze the origins, characteristics, and development of different political systems across time, with emphasis on the quest for political democracy, its advances, and its obstacles.
12.10 Students formulate questions about and defend their analyses of tensions within our constitutional democracy and the importance of maintaining a balance between the following concepts: majority rule and individual rights; liberty and equality; state and national authority in a federal system; civil disobedience and the rule of law; freedom of the press and the right to a fair trial; the relationship of religion and government.

Class Texts

American Government: Institutions & Policies. Cenage Learning, 2015 (ISBN:9781285195094)

Recommended Materials

  • Writing Utensil: Pencil or Pen (avoid light colors)

  • Lined loose-leaf or binded paper 8.5x11

  • Folder or section in your block binder to collect and save work

Class Policies, Expectations and Rules

  • Arrive to class on time with your materials out and ready.

  • No food or drink other than water for class meetings.

  • Technology may only be used to look up material relevant to this course and requires teacher permission in advance of use.

  • Always respect your school, teacher, and fellow students. 

  • Clean up after your work space.

  • No phones during quizzes.

Major Assessments

  • Homework

    • Signed syllabus, Reading assignments/checks, Chapter packets if not finished in class, etc.

  • Classwork

    • Questions of the day: At the start of most classes you will a warm up question or statement that you must respond to. The responses must be at least half a page in length.

    • Chapter packets

  • Quizzes

    • Multiple choice and short answer

  • Unit Projects

    • Political Mobilization Essay

    • Landmark U.S. Supreme Court Case

    • Simulated Congressional Hearing

Effect of Unexcused Absences on Grades

  • At LACHSA, a teacher may issue a failing grade to a student if they have unexcused absences for more than ten percent of the course periods in a given semester as follows:

    • Course meets 2-3 times per week (Periods 1-6)

      • Five unexcused absences in a semester is excessive. When a student earns five unexcused absences, a teacher must notify the parent/guardian that if a student earns a sixth unexcused absence, a failing grade may be issued for the semester.

  • Students who do not have their absences excused will not receive credit for any work that was due during their unexcused absences.

LACHSA Grading Scale

I have the highest expectations for you in this course. Your grade will depend on your Performance. To earn an A, you must demonstrate mastery on the course material as covered in the assignments and exams, write clear and compelling essays and papers, and show knowledge and insight during class discussions and oral presentations.

Each semester grade will be cumulative. I will not be averaging the first 9 weeks of the semester with the second nine weeks. As I find that most often than not that the assignments are not always equivalent during the first and second half of the semester. All grades will be inputted as they are assigned throughout the semester.

A+   97 - 100% A     93 - 96.9% A-    90 - 92.9%

B+   87 - 89.9% B     83 - 86.9% B-    80 - 82.9%

C+   77 - 79.9% C     73 - 76.9% C-    70 - 72.9%

D+   67 - 69.9% D     63 - 66.9% D-    60 - 62.9%

F     59.9% and below

Note to Students

* Students can earn no less than the corresponding letter grade in each numerical category

* The University Of California does not recognize courses with D’s for A-G credit
Work Habits and Citizenship Grade

Progress Report grades will be issued every 4.5 weeks and will be available for review on the Parent Portal. In addition to a letter grade, a grade for citizenship and work habits will be included on the student's progress report for each course of enrolment. These grades should be reviewed by parents and students in an effort to identify areas for improvement that will likely also improve a student's overall letter grade in the course. Students earning Unsatisfactory Citizenship or Work Habits marks may not be able to participate in extracurricular activities (including field trips) and may be placed on probation. Parents/Guardians are recommended to reach out directly to teachers to discuss any Unsatisfactory remarks.



On time to class, respectful of others, takes care of school property, displays integrity

Work Habits

Participates, comes prepared, engaged in curriculum, completes work

Outstanding (O)

Always (90-100%)

Always (90-100%)

Satisfactory (S)

Most of the Time (70-89%)

Most of the Time (70-89%)

Needs Improvement (N)

Sometimes (50-69%)

Sometimes (50-69%)

Unsatisfactory (U)

Rarely (less than 50%)

Rarely (less than 50%)

Class Work and Homework Policy

  • Formative Assessment PolicyHomework, Concept Connect Activities (primary and secondary analysis), and Questions of Day will be graded on a 5-point Scale based on effort/accuracy. Assessments will be assigned weekly if necessary and be posted on Partial points (half a point, quarter point, etc.) will be awarded if a student falls in between the grading scale listed. Please see class website at for exact grading scale, assignments and assignment due dates. 

  • Summative and Concept Packet Classwork: Presentation sections and classwork practice packets questions will be graded on a 1-point scale based on accuracy/effort.  Partial points (half a point, quarter point, etc.) will be awarded if a student falls to meet the following requirements.

  • Please see class website at for exact grading scale, assignments and assignment due dates.

Late Work Policy

Late work will not be accepted unless the office has excused the absence within 24 hours of the absence.  In accordance with the LACHSA Attendance Policy, all homework or book work for scheduled arts or academic field trips and performances must be completed prior to trip or performance for credit unless other arrangements have been made with the teacher ahead of time. If you are absent from class, it is your responsibility to ensure your absence is cleared in the main office and your assignments are turned in. You will not be able to earn credit for absent work unless your absence is cleared by the main office as an excused absence. In accordance with the LACHSA policy, for any excused absence, students will have the same number of days in which they were absent to make up work.
Missed Quizzes:  If you miss an exam/quiz, I will ONLY be administering make-ups on the Tuesday/Wednesday following the test during office hours. You must arrive by 7:25 in order to ensure that you will be given the quiz and have enough time to take it. Student arriving later than 7:25 may not be allowed to begin the quiz. It is your responsibility to make-up the exam as there will be no second chances. If you have a conflict or will be absent on the make-up day it is your responsibility to inform me and secure an alternate date before Wednesday’s Office Hours. Should you fail to show up on the Wednesday after your test for the make-up you will automatically receive a “0.” Only students who have cleared/verified their absences will receive credit for make-up quizzes/exams. LACHSA policy requires that you clear an absence within 24 hours of returning to school from said absence.
Missed Classwork: If you miss an in class assignment it is your responsibility to see the teacher and obtain that assignment. It will be due the class period after you return to class. For example if we had an in class assignment on Tuesday and you return to class on Thursday, the current event it is due the next class (Friday or following Tuesday if we do not have class that Friday).

Academic Integrity

Integrity is highly valued at LACHSA. Truth is the ultimate goal in democratic education. Honesty is essential to successful education. Cheating is the most destructive action in the academic world. Cheating undermines the academic process, shatters student integrity and destroys the trust necessary to teacher/student relationships. The cynical or unprepared student who seeks a dishonest advantage over fellow students is not only self-defeating, but affects others if not confronted and stopped.

Our Academic Honesty Policy addresses issues of cheating, plagiarism, theft, alteration of materials and test avoidance. All students and parents sign the policy at the beginning of the school year to demonstrate their commitment to honesty and integrity. LACHSA students and staff will uphold the highest moral and ethical standards. Theft of (or unauthorized use of) student possession will not be tolerated. Theft is a criminal matter and will be treated as such. Our campus is a place for safety and respect for all. Promptly report all incidents to a staff member so that we may deal with each problem in a quick, consistent and rational manner.

Acts of Academic Dishonesty which will not be tolerated at LACHSA are:

  • Cheating On Tests: Any intentional giving or use of external assistance relating to an examination, test or quiz without permission of the teacher. Parents will be contacted by the instructor or the student during class time or at the conclusion of the class.

  • Unauthorized use of technology devices during a test or assessment.

  • Unauthorized Collaboration: Intentional collaboration (copying) an assignment between a student and another person is considered dishonest. Both or all students involved will be subject to lowered academic and citizenship grades, and parents will be contacted.

  • Plagiarism: All students are expected to complete their own work and assignments. Plagiarism constitutes any intentional use of another’s ideas, words or works as one’s own or allowing others to use their words or work as their own.

    • Plagiarism includes the misuse of material and the work of another student. It also includes downloading information directly from the internet and computer and turning it in as a report. If you use outside resources on any assignment you must cite using the proper citation format. Copying directly from the textbook or any other source unless specifically quoted and cited properly is forbidden and considered plagiarism.

    • Every assignment, unless otherwise specified is to be treated as an individual assignment. This means no you cannot collaborate with others on researching or writing the assignment. If you are caught collaborating on an individual assignment it will be treated as cheating.

    • Plagiarism will result in earning a failing grade on the assignment, lowering of a citizenship grade, and relinquishing of technology privileges. Additionally, any student guilty of plagiarism will receive a zero grade on the assignment. The zero will not be dropped and that grade will be averaged in for the grading period. You will also be reported to the administration and will have to follow and complete the requirements set forth in the student handbook regarding cheating and plagiarism.

  • Theft or Alteration of Materials: A student guilty of stealing or altering test materials, calculators, books, computer tapes/disks, or other course materials from teachers, the Library/Media Center/media center, office or another student will be subject to being dropped from the class with an “F/U” for the semester and suspension from school.

  • Test Avoidance: If a student develops a pattern of test avoidance, the parents will be notified. At the teacher’s discretion, any further absences may result in a forfeit of the make-up policy.

  • Pressure for Unsubstantiated Grade Change: Student and parent requests or demands for a raise in a course grade will not be considered, unless such request is based on clerical error.

Accessing the Class Website:

You can access the class website by following these steps:

Log on to (notice no www)

    • On the top of the page click on “Academics” or “Arts”

    • Then click on “Classes/Homework” or “Homework”

    • Then click on the subject you are trying to look up assignments for

    • click on your Teacher name and then the period of your class

Assignment Submissions:

I DO NOT accept electronic work, i.e. it cannot be emailed to me. You must have your work ready(hand written for most assignments except projects or essays is acceptable) or printed at the START of class to turn in for credit. If you are having printing problems please see the office for a place to print your work or obtain a print card from CSULA and print it in the library. 

  • If you have problems acquiring a printer, computer or internet access to complete work please see me.

Fall Semester Major Assessments and Projects (Pacing Plan)

  1. Foundations of American Government

    1. The Study of American Government (Chapter 1)

    2. The Constitution (Chapter 2)

    3. Federalism (Chapter 3)

  1. Political Behavior (Linkage Institutions)

    1. Public Opinion (Chapter 7)

    2. Political Participation (Chapter 8)

    3. Political Parties (Chapter 9)

    4. Elections and Campaigns (Chapter 10)

    5. Interest Groups (Chapter 11)

    6. The Media (Chapter 12)

Unit I & II Summative Assessment: Political Mobilization Essay

*Final draft of this assignment will be submitted via

  1. Institutions of American Government

    1. Congress (Chapter 13)

    2. The Presidency (Chapter 14)

    3. The Bureaucracy (Chapter 15)

    4. The Judiciary (Chapter 16)

      1. Civil Liberties (Chapter 5)

      2. Civil Rights (Chapter 6)

Unit III Supreme Court Case Presentation, December 14-18

  1. Public Policy and American Democracy

    1. Domestic Policy (Chapter 17)

    2. Economic Policy (Chapter 18)

    3. Foreign and Military Policy (Chapter 19)

    4. American Democracy, Then and Now (Chapter 20)

Final Congressional Hearing, January 20-23

Online Grading – Parent Portal
ALL Academic for students will be posted on ABI (or the Parent Portal) after each assignment has been turned in and graded. It is the responsibility of the student and parent to verify that these grades are accurate. If there are any discrepancies with the grades, please inform your teacher. You can access these daily grades by choosing “Grades” and then “Gradebook” on your parent portal account. Then click on the class for which you want to see the assignment grade breakdown.
ALL Academic and Arts grades will be posted every 4.5 weeks. These overall grades will be posted on the Parent Portal for ALL classes in the form of a progress report. Click on “Grades” then “Grades” to see your overall grades every 4.5 weeks.
Information on how to create a parent portal account was give out during registration. Please contact if you need assistance with your portal account reactivation.
Extra Instructional Help and Tutoring Hours
With such a busy schedule, LACHSA students often need a little extra help, need to borrow a textbook to finish an assignment.
Office Hours:

Tuesday and Wednesday mornings (7:15 – 8am) for all Academic classes

* No student arriving to office hours past 7:50 will be helped.
By phone: TBD
Note to Parents:  Please see the class website at for assignment information, tutoring hours and other important course information.  In addition, you may subscribe to the homework page to get email reminders when new assignments are posted or updated. Please check regularly to check on your child’s progress. After reviewing your child’s online grade, you have any questions or concerns please email Ms. Hernandez at


Please review the syllabus with your student and fill out and sign below.
Parent/ Student

Guardian Name: Name:
___________________________ ______________________________

Parent Signature: Student Signature:

___________________________ ______________________________
Parent Preferred Email: ____________________________

Date: _______________

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