History Becomes History: Updates to the US and World History Rubrics

A look into how the new AP history rubrics will be affecting Mitty classes.
History Becomes History: Updates to the US and World History Rubrics

Earlier this year, the AP history tests were modified and the news may lead to happiness among students. Changes include implementing a digital exam, as well as the DBQ (Document Based Questions) rubric modifications. The DBQ is a section of the AP test in which the examinee is given several documents to analyze and write an essay about. As Mr. Brendan Lavelle, Chair of the Social Studies Department, explains, most of the seven points awarded for each section of the DBQ have had their standards altered; “evidence and sourcing have gotten a lower bar, analysis points have been reduced to just two instead of three; and the complexity point is much more accessible to students”—simply using all seven documents will earn students the point. 

These changes are significant in that the overall passing rate for these AP history exams will likely see a shift upward. However, Mr. Lavelle points out that this may not be as rewarding for Mitty students considering Mitty has consistently scored higher than other high schools in the country on the test. 

Taking these changes into consideration, the AP History teachers have adjusted their teaching to adapt to the new rubric. For example, Mr. Pete Dumesnil, who teaches AP US History, said that before the change, teachers encouraged students not to focus on earning the sourcing point on their DBQ but instead allocating time to obtaining other points. The sourcing point had originally required students to cite six sources accurately and effectively in their DBQ and since the new rubric now only requires four sources to be cited on the DBQ, Mr. Dumesnil plans to put more more focus on training his students to obtain that point. 

These rubric changes have a significant impact on the test scores of students. In this case, the changes will result in higher overall test scores than before. Sophomores, who have never gone through the difficulties of the old DBQ scoring method and may not fully understand the difference, can at least be comforted that the College Board is changing its standards to better accommodate the needs of high school students.

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