Course Grading Scheme

  A = 93-100%     B = 85-92.9%     C = 77-84.9%     D = 70-76.9%     F = 69.9% & lower  

In late May, next school year's incoming APUSH students are provided with a small collection of course work to be completed over the summer months. The assignment package, due in its entirety the first official day of class, is required and scored. The work serves as a sampling of that which takes place during the school year. Additionally, it enables students (instructor, as well) to "hit the ground running" when class commences in the fall. The group of assignments distributed is roughly equivalent to what might be assigned over a period of five days during the normal school year.

Students are assigned 31 worksheets, roughly corresponding to chapters in The American Nation by John Garraty & Mark Carnes. Each worksheet contains 45-50 multiple-choice questions (traditional format). It is appropriate for students to use Garraty and other sources to complete the worksheets. They are valued at 50 points each (regardless of actual amount of questions). Beginning with Worksheet No. 3 on the Tuesday after Labor Day, one worksheet is due (in sequential order) the first school day of every week until the supply of worksheets is exhausted. The worksheets (indeed, all class assignments) are due at the beginning of the period. No late papers are accepted.

A total of eight major exams will be administered throughout the school year. The tests have been constructed to coincide with the nine periods of study recognized by the College Board (the first two periods are combined within the first course exam) and covered through the four blocks of study described in the course syllabus on this Website. The exams are composed of 50 multiple-choice questions ("new" style), many of which have been extracted from APUSH National Exams of previous years. As the course progresses, the tests become increasingly comprehensive. Students are allowed one class period of 50 minutes duration to complete an exam, thus replicating the National Exam process. The tests are each worth a maximum of 250 points (figured at the rate of 5 points per total number of questions correctly answered). Tests will be announced a few days in advance. Missed exams will be fulfilled by the beginning of class on the next day after return. Failure to comply results in points reduction at the discretion of the instructor.

Following each lecture series (about every 5-6 days), a quiz will be administered. They are typically announced in advance, but this is not an absolute, therefore students are advised to come prepared for a quiz during any regular class session. Quizzes offer up to 20 multiple-choice questions of which the general level of difficulty is markedly less than most items on the major exams. Every quiz is worth 20 points (one point per question). Students absent on quiz day will not do the quiz. Instead, any missed points can be recovered via an alternate method such as chapter notes (see below). For this part of the grading scheme, 500 points is considered maximum. Students are offered more than 25 total quizzes during the course of the year—a perfect score on all quizzes equates to more than 500 points, thereby leaving ample "comfort room" for an occasional absence. As a general rule, quizzes will not be administered on Mondays or Fridays.

Students are required to maintain a spiral notebook. Within this notebook should be brief descriptions of all identification items listed under the "What's My Line?" heading for each unit. Students should endeavor to keep the notebooks current with lecture and reading assignments. The notebooks will be checked periodically throughout the year, although the exact number of times is flexible. Neatness and organization, as well as accuracy and thoroughness, are important grading factors. Exhaustive "busy work" is not the intent of this activity. Explanation will be provided near the start of the school year to assist students in knowing what sort of information is key. No matter how many times notebooks are checked during the year, the total notebook portion of students' grades is 500 points.

A bunch of essay exercises will happen (there is no precise target amount). The bulk of essay work usually occurs during the second and third quarters. The essay type is varied among short-answer, free-response, and document-based formats. Advanced notice is standard procedure. Students are allowed 10-15 minutes to complete the short-answer exercises; 50 minutes for the free-response and document-based essays. This portion of the grading package is especially intended for those students who plan to take the National Exam.

Students must complete three Primo Outlines detailing historical periods of choice (instructor approval is recommended). Worth 100 points each, the outlines are graded on presentation, thoroughness, and accuracy. Inclusion of charts, maps, political cartoons, and other such adornments is beneficial. At least two sources must be used (one of which should be Garraty). Sample Primo Outlines are available from the instructor for students' inspection. All papers are due, at scattered times, before May 1; precise completion dates will be announced as the school year progresses.

Students are required to view two movies based on an episode in United States history and complete an accompanying, instructor-generated Study Guide. Please click here to access the list of acceptable films. The value of each Hollywood & History assignment is 100 points. A generous assortment of films assures that no students are compelled to view movies which they might consider, for any reason whatever, personally offensive or otherwise off-limits due to parental boundaries. All papers are to be completed prior to May 1; specific dates will be established as the school year progresses.

Students must complete a Political Cartoons collection. The finished work includes at least six cartoons drawn from different historical periods. Each cartoon is accompanied by detailed description of the event portrayed, circumstances of the incident, identification of key elements within the drawing (including what each is intended to represent). The overall message conveyed by the cartoonist should be stated, as well. The items should be arranged chronologically and original sources identified. It is acceptable to substitute a significant artwork for one of the political cartoons. This activity, worth 100 points, is evaluated on presentation, thoroughness, and accuracy. Samples are available for students' inspection. This assignment is due before May 1; a precise date will be announced during the school year.

Students must complete an assemblage of several assorted visuals. The finished work includes ten items representing different historical eras. Possible visuals include advertisements, artworks, billboards & signs, campaign buttons, charts & graphs, collector cards, currency (bills or coins), flags & banners, maps, photographs, postage stamps, posters, political cartoons, statues & sculptures, and the list goes on. All items must be accompanied by description of the event portrayed, circumstances of the episode, and identification of key points which make that item historically memorable. A general summary statement regarding historical significance might be appropriate, as well. The items are arranged chronologically and original sources identified. Worth 100 points, the Optical Emulsion activity is evaluated on presentation, thoroughness, and accuracy. The instructor has samples available. This assignment is due no later than May 1; an exact date will be determined as the school year progresses.

Students must read a book of historical significance and complete a report. Acceptable books represent a wide array of topics spanning the entire gamut of United States history. The instructor will offer guidance to assure that students make a worthwhile selection in terms of personal interest, scholarly benefit, and historical impact. Additionally, direction will be available regarding format and content of the Book Report. This assignment is to be completed prior to May 1; an exact due date will be established during the school year. As of 2017-18, the Book Report requirement has been replaced by the Common Thread lab.

Chapter notes (in various formats) may be completed at the students' leisure and presented for evaluation by the instructor. Outlines decidedly thorough will be awarded 20 "opportunity" points. Students are limited to a maximum of 15 outlines for the year—ten from Garraty and five additional from other quality sources such as Brinkley (approved in advance by the instructor). No more than one outline may be submitted per week. This is an optional component of the total grading package.

There are two basic reasons why testing occurs in the academic world. Exams are most commonly administered for the short-term purpose of knowledge evaluation to obtain grades per student ("summative assessment"). Tests can also be used as a long-term learning mechanism—frequently ignored in the typical classroom environment—whereby students review items answered incorrectly in order to determine and eliminate cognitive flaws ("formative assessment"). Within one week following major exams, students are obliged to submit personal test analyses. The analyses attempt to reveal study patterns, positive or negative, which may be significant to students' results on the tests. As part of the analyses, students each declare study modification(s) of some nature, the goal of which is to increase future exam scores (through more efficient acquisition/understanding of knowledge presented). Importantly, the study enhancements should be genuine, realistic, and measurable. The instructor will provide guidance when the time comes.

Students may opt to participate in the yearly excursion to the Little Bighorn Battlefield in southeastern Montana and other historical points in and near Sheridan, Wyoming. It is a three-day affair, typically scheduled for late April. Sometimes the trip is conducted in conjunction with other classes, such as Advanced Photography. Please click here for full details. The maximum available points for the excursion is 200, based on several criteria, including a written assignment. Students not attending have other means by which to acquire the points. Due to certain existing travel conditions, participation is somewhat limited. Please note, as well, that the instructor maintains the right to bar from the trip any students who display, via normal classroom observation, conduct suggesting extra adult supervision might be necessary. Placing volunteer teachers/supervisors and parents/chaperones in a position of abnormal regulation (due to pre-known circumstances) is unreasonable to all excursion participants, adults and students alike. Simply, if deportment in the school setting is an issue, easy logic dictates that maturity and accountability in public places (such as restaurants, motels, and museums where constant surveillance is impossible) will also be problematic.

The year-end Advanced Placement National Examination in United States History is optional. Please click here to learn more about the National Exam. The alternative is an internal final test. National Exam takers are exempted from the class final evaluation. Students having a grade of C− or below at semester break will be directed away from the National Exam.

From time to time, after-hours review sessions will be scheduled, perhaps as a precursor for a major exam, to offer extra assistance in proper essay construction, or simply as general review for the National Exam. Attendance is highly recommended, but left to the discretion of each student. Sessions will be held more frequently as the date for the National Exam nears.

Students who decline the National Exam are subject to an in-class final test occurring in lieu of portions of some assignment segments (TBA) within the total grading scheme. The test is comprised of 100 multiple-choice questions, the vast majority of which are National Exam caliber. The class final test is administered on the same day as the National Exam.

Students (and parents) are requested to remember that this course is a year-long affair rather than a series of four 9-weeks classes which are averaged together. With this in mind, the grades appearing on "report cards" throughout the year represent very close approximations of the students' composite work up to a certain point. In other words, posted grades are progressive rather than absolute, much like the score during a basketball game (the course grade—similar to the score during any basketball game—is subject to and likely will change from moment to moment). The instructor reserves the right to modify at any time a portion of this grading scheme that, for whatever reason, appears unworkable, provided sufficient notice is given to students. Students should review the on-line gradebook frequently and use this page as a reference tool throughout the school year.

★  ★   You can click here for  ★  
Grading Scheme Synopsis
★  ★  in  handy  PDF  format.  ★  

Click below to access helpful
 guidelines for LAB


Political Cartoons

Optical Emulsion

Common Thread