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History Placement Guidelines

The History Department encourages students to challenge and stretch themselves in their exploration of historical topics and their development of skills in the humanities. All courses in the department are designed to be appropriately difficult and encourage growth over the span of the course. The Department offers a small handful of advanced courses-- AP U.S. History, AP Art History, and AP Government -- in order to provide additional challenge for particularly strong and motivated students in the 11th and 12th grades. These courses involve significantly more reading, generally at a higher level of difficulty; demand more sophisticated writing and discussion; and move at a faster pace. The department will provide 10th and 11th graders with one of the following recommendations for the next year's courses, based on the current instructor's view of the best match for the student based on his or her past performance:
  • Strongly recommended for advanced course: These students are very likely to thrive in the AP or advanced courses, based on their advanced skill levels and intellectual sophistication in the humanities. We recommend that these students enroll in an AP course, as long as they are interested in the subject and have taken into consideration the overall rigor of their schedule. Students who are strongly recommended for advanced course work are by no means required to enroll in an AP course. (For example, an 11th grader recommended for 12th grade AP courses may still elect to take Economics rather than AP Art History or AP Government.)
  • Recommended for advanced course: These students are likely to succeed in AP or advanced courses. An AP or advanced course would probably be a good fit for these students, although they would certainly be challenged in a non-AP course, too. 
  • Recommended with reservations for advanced course: These students may have the potential to succeed in the AP or advanced courses, but it may require additional effort or particular attention to an area of weakness. A student recommended with reservations should take some additional steps to determine the potential challenges posed by the AP or advanced course and carefully consider whether enrolling in this course is likely to yield positive results. (For example, a current teacher may recommend a student with reservations, based on a student's tendency to not participate in class discussions; the teacher may encourage a student to enroll in the advanced course only if he or she devotes particular effort in increasing his or her level of class engagement.) 
  • Not recommended for advanced course: These students, in the opinion of the department, are unlikely to succeed in an AP or advanced course. Teachers may be concerned that students will struggle with the length or difficulty of nightly reading, meeting high expectations for written work, keeping up with the pace of the course, managing the frequency and difficulty of assessments, working at the level of independence expected, or keeping up with daily discussions. These students will be appropriately challenged in the non-AP courses. 
While the History Department stands firmly behind these recommendations and strongly encourages students to heed them, we ultimately leave the choice of course enrollment up to the student. If a student is recommended with reservations, we encourage him or her to meet with the current teacher as well as the instructor of the advanced course in order to better understand the potential challenges of enrolling in the AP course before determining the best fit. If a student is not recommended for advanced courses, he or she must complete and sign a contract acknowledging that he or she is enrolling in an advanced course against the recommendation of the department. The student must recognize that he or she is likely to receive lower grades than usual and will not receive extraordinary amounts of individual help or tutoring on the part of the instructor, and the student must acknowledge the limits and consequences associated with dropping out of the course after it has begun.





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