The College Board, the company that sets the standards for college entry testing, has come under fire for a controversial new history exam framework that treats the subject as “a fungible description of America’s past.”
Teachers, professors, college presidents and other educators have voiced their objections by signing an open letter that severely criticizes the Board. The letter states that the new “Advanced Placement Examination shortchanges students by imposing on them an arid, fragmentary, and misleading account of American history.”
History advocate David Bruce Smith, co-founder of the Grateful American Book Prize, was quick to add his name to the prestigious list of individuals who signed the letter. “History is not theoretical; it is unchallengeable and unassailable. It is all about events and personalities that are real and that shaped our national heritage. And, it is our duty to describe those events and those individuals in an accurate, factual and unbiased manner,” he said.
Smith noted that the country’s “historical literacy” is at a low point. The Nation’s Report Card, recently issued by the Education Department’s National Assessment of Educational Progress, showed how lacking in knowledge of America’s history is among today’s students. “The College Board is not helping to remedy the situation by creating the criteria for a history exam that is misleading, inaccurate and flat,” he said.
The academic protest against the Board’s new testing standard is an objection to what the educators described as a “new framework so populated with examples of American history as the conflict between social groups, and so inattentive to the sources of national unity and cohesion, that it is hard to see how students will gain any coherent idea of what those sources might be. This does them, and us, an immense disservice.”