A post mortem on AP World History

Radha Tanner, Contributor

At the beginning of my sophomore year, Jackson-Reed stopped offering AP World History for all students. Rising sophomores who wanted to take the class expressed concern, but administration stuck with their justification that sophomores weren’t equipped to handle the difficulty of the course.

As a sophomore, I wanted to take AP World and felt that it was unfair that I wasn’t given the opportunity to. Then, when I took AP US History as a junior, I felt completely unprepared for the style of writing required in an AP history course. I felt as though my school deprived me of an opportunity to learn about far away people and places at a college level. 

But, after hearing why some history teachers are against reintroducing the class, I began to reconsider. David Heckler, a World History teacher who taught AP World for eight years, is against reintroducing it as an alternative for World History II for sophomores. He shared that in his experience, AP World was the most segregated history course at Jackson-Reed, more so than AP U.S. History and AP U.S. Government. 

He said that, as a department head, he couldn’t allow that to happen. And I agree. Unless Jackson-Reed can figure out a way to increase the number of students of color who choose to take the class, such as introducing it as an AP for All course, it shouldn’t be offered as a replacement for World History II. One potential way of doing this would be offering it as an AP for All course, meaning that everyone who takes a world history class sophomore year would be taking AP World. But, so far, desegregating AP classes has proven to be a long process with no one easy solution.

I also think there is something to be said for the difficulty of this course, and how sophomores would handle it. AP World is one of the most difficult history APs, and has one of the most difficult exams, with nearly half of students failing in 2021. If this class were to be reintroduced into the curriculum, Jackson-Reed should either allow students to take APs their freshman year, to prepare them, or offer it as an elective for upperclassmen. 

Overall though, I am in favor of bringing back AP World, with some major tweaks, for one key reason. It is imperative that Jackson-Reed offer an AP World History course to ensure students are educated about the people, cultures, events, and stories that are different from the ones they are normally exposed to. •