The College Board’s Advanced Placement programs have long been a staple of American high schools. For some students, the prestige of having an AP class on one’s resume draws them to the demanding courses, while parents may entrain visions of massive tuition savings once college hits. But dollars and status aside, the courses require students — and teachers — to strive to keep up with the rigors of the curriculum.

That curriculum, though, has garnered much attention in recent years. Updates take place regularly, of course, but rarely do they solicit any sort of notice outside of the teachers who have to revamp their plans every decade or so. No doubt you remember this was not the case in 2014 when the AP US History test experienced an overhaul. Critics, both in academia and in the general public, blasted the new standards for downplaying American exceptionalism and for emphasizing concepts over facts. Bowing to the pressure, the College Board quickly released a re-revamped curriculum in August of 2015. Since then, national media has resumed its “radio silence” of nearly all things AP.

Teachers, of course, understand that changes (likely less controversial) are always afoot. The 2016-17 school year saw major changes to Calculus AB, Calculus BC, and World History courses. The Calculus changes, according to some, were more tweaks than fundamental changes. World History, however, saw a massive reorganization of both the curriculum and the exam. Unlike APUSH’s first revision, the APWH curriculum changes were not only less (or “non-“) controversial but rich with details and specifics. Its testing format also emphasizes both facts and historical thinking skills. The efficacy of these course changes will only be known once the exams are graded and tabulated in July.

So what’s on tap for the 2017-18 school year? According to the College Board’s “Advances in AP” website, nothing new — something that, from personal experience, is welcomed news to AP teachers around the globe. The next major overhaul looks to be U.S. Government in Politics in 2018-19, the first in a decade. These changes promise a “deeper conceptual understanding of political processes” rather than a memorization of facts and specific Court cases. Students will be expected to interpret data and draw conclusions from those sources. In general, the expectations mirror many of those in the revised US History and World History courses. And as with those previous courses, teachers of this AP course will be expected to submit a revised course syllabus for an audit review. But again: this will not go into effect until the 2018-19 school year.

For AP U.S. Government teachers: you may want to get to work. For everyone else: we can hear your sigh of relief from here.

About the Author

Kirby Spivey taught AP World History, US History, and many other Social Studies courses in Georgia. He and his wife live in Atlanta

Tips:

  • How can I view the answer key for a test?
    • This depends:
    • If a benchmark, go to the Benchmarks tab —> Options menu —> Answer Key
      • The answers will be bolded
      • Explanations for all answers are also available
    • If a practice test (small, medium, large, full, or domain test), then those tests are randomly-generated for every student —> NO answer key
    • If a teacher asks how to see the questions the students have, explain that since practice tests, practice questions, and vocabulary are all randomly-generated, there’s no way to preview the exact questions
      • A teacher can certainly go to the Options menu —> Preview to see what the assignment will be like, but the questions will vary each time
      • If a teacher wants the ability to see the exact questions that students will have, then direct him/her to creating a benchmark

New Features:

  • Not exactly a feature, but we’ve added some copy on the login page to help with auto-fill issues

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  • Coming later this month… …Test Drive, a new racing game in your Game Arcade!usatestprep-ambassadors-1
  • “Assignment Submitted” message: 
    • There’s nothing to prevent students from opening a test or benchmark in two different tabs or browsers.  Before this change, students could submit the test in each tab (even if the assignment only allowed 1 attempt), thereby creating confusion and frustration for teachers.  
      • Why do students have multiple results for this benchmark?  
      • Why is the benchmark result in a different column in my gradebook? 
      • How did the benchmark become disconnected from the assignment?  
      • Why is the line you’re in always the slowest?  
      • Can money really buy happiness?  
      • Does toast really always fall buttered-side down?  
      • Does Sean secretly enjoy Tech Tuesdays?
    • Well, not so fast multiple-tab-students!
    • Students can still open and save a test in multiple tabs/ browsers.  BUT, there’s now a check in place upon submitting.  If the test or benchmark has already been submitted and met the number of attempts allowed by the teacher, then they receive the message “Assignment Submitted”
    • If a student calls to complain that he/ she saw that message, then you will be able to find that test or benchmark already completed in Graded Work.  I guarantee it.
    • There are a couple of loopholes (these will be addressed at a later time):
      • Benchmarks within a group assignment —> workaround is to only assign benchmarks as single assignments
      • Students manually removing the assignment ID from the URL —> in this case, if the benchmark no longer has the assignment ID attached to it, we know that the student was intentionally causing that to happen

Assignment writing can be a real drag, but it doesn’t have to be. If your students can develop the right habits and learn the right tricks to writing a great assignment, the whole process becomes a lot easier. The internet is a great place to find resources and tools to help you out, so check out these nine tools to help your students get the most out of their writing.

  1. Paraphrasing Tool: You want to use the work and research of experts in your essay, to strengthen your arguments and solidify your point of view. However, you need to be careful not to write in their work verbatim. It can look as though you’ve not put the effort in, and can even lead to plagiarism accusations. This tool lets you paste the text in and gets suggestions for paraphrasing them, so you can include them without worry.Male student working on report in library
  2. Boom Essays: The best way to proofread your work is to have someone else read it for you. However, sometimes you just don’t have time or someone with the right experience to get it done. When this is the case, you can call on this writing service. They’ll read your work over, and even edit it if needed.
  3. Plagiarisma: Are you worried that your essay may get picked up for plagiarism? Paste it into this tool, and it will tell you if any sections will trigger plagiarism checks. You can then edit them before your deadline.
  4. EssayRoo: Most students don’t have infinite free time to get their assignments done. They’re working, raising families, or caring for loved ones. If you’re short on time and can’t get your essay done, you can hire the professionals from this service to help you. They’re highly qualified and will consult you so you could write the perfect essay for your assignment.
  5. EasyBib: Bibliographies carry marks, and most students lose marks on these. This tool allows you to put in the books you use, and generates a bibliography for you.
  6. Proofread Bot: No matter how much you read your essay over, you can still miss errors in your writing. The best way to get around this is to use this tool. Paste your essay into the text box, and it will highlight any errors that it finds in your work. You can correct them easily from here, and then copy the corrected text back into your essay.
  7. University Tutor: If you need a help to handle your coursework assignment, this site offers some of the most qualified tutors around. You can browse their portfolios, so you can choose a tutor that has the expertise in academic writing. This way, you know you’ll write an original essay that will get you the marks you need.
  8. Thesis Generator: Planning essays can be something of a nightmare for some students. This tool helps you create an essay plan quickly and easily. Simply follow the steps and answer the questions given, and you’ll have a plan made especially for you.
  9. LucidChart: If you need to create flowcharts in your assignments, this tool is the best one to use. It works with almost any operating system, and they look slick and professional with only a few minutes work.

Try these tools when your class needs some help writing your next assignment. They’ll help students develop skills and become better writers. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your students’ grades will improve with just a little extra effort put in. As any teacher knows, anything that makes writing easier has got to be a good thing.

Student Dot Rank Settings

  • On any content area page, students can track their own progress and proficiency.
  • Proficiency is displayed using Dot Rank, our system of green, orange, pink, and grey dots.
  • Students have two options to calculate their Dot Rank scores — best practice question set only or cumulative total of all test, benchmark, and practice questions.
  • New easy toggle at the top of the page makes it easy to switch views.
  • Click on the Dot Rank link to view scoring breakdown for each color dot.
  • Vocabulary, performance tasks, and videos are tracked through the Progress bar.

Watch a video about the Dot Rank settings.

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Did You Know…?

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new_view_teacher1Do You Love Using USATestprep?

Would you like to receive free perks and be recognized for your passion? Then check out USATestprep’s new Ambassador Program. Our Ambassadors help spread the word and educate teachers about USATestprep. In exchange, Ambassadors are rewarded with free swag, online recognition, first-to-know status, access to our super user community, and more!

Go here to request exclusive access.

Every year USATestprep hosts user meetings throughout the country to help you, our customers, get the most from your USATestprep experience.  This January we have added a few new locations to ensure that more educators are able to take advantage of these training events.

All events are from 8:30am-12:30pm and include a certificate for 4 hours of professional development, a continental breakfast break, and USATestprep swag. Cost is $65 per person. Be sure to bring your laptop or tablet to the training.

These user meetings are a great time of instruction and Q&A for:

  • New users, seeking a feature overview
  • Experienced users, looking to improve their experience
  • Teachers, who want to maximize our classroom resources
  • Administrators, who want to track class and school performance

These events are for teachers and administrators who want to:

  • Become familiar with USATestprep’s capabilities
  • Learn how to use newly-released features
  • Get the most out of USATestprep at a classroom, building, or district level
User Meeting Schedule

January

felicia-shotDiscover how to utilize USATestprep through classroom stations. You’ll learn about five key stations that can be used in your classroom. Join USATestprep expert and former teacher, Felicia Zorn, live to learn about these five, student-centered stations that will transform your teaching approach.

The Token System is Here!

  • Students earn tokens for completing assignments and independent practice activities
  • Students earn varying amounts of tokens based on performance and type of activity
  • Students do not earn tokens for benchmark assessments
  • Students can spend tokens to play games in the new arcade
  • Students have free play games to choose from as well, but those games incorporate questions
  • Teachers can check a student’s token history and even lock the game arcade when necessary
  • Many games have transitioned to the new arcade, which means fewer options within the assignment system

Watch the video below to learn more about the token system:

Free Response

Need to add your own free response questions? Now you can! In Step 3 when creating a benchmark, click the button to author a new question. Decide between multiple choice and free response, then input your question. If adding a free response question, an answer key and keywords are optional.

USATestprep is seeking a sales and customer service professional. This is a part-time position located in our Kennesaw, Georgia office. Hours are approximately 15-20 per week.

Responsibilities include:

  • Phone-based customer service
  • Sales phone calls to existing trial members
  • Miscellaneous tasks may include data entry, order processing, web-based customer training, or other
  • Handle incoming email and phone call requests from current and potential subscribers

Required Skills

  • Experience working in a Mac environment
  • Basic knowledge of formulas and filters in Microsoft Excel
  • Strong technical problem-solving skills
  • Phone-based sales experience
  • Attention to detail
  • Strong follow up skills

Additional Information:

  • Flexible hours

To apply, please email your resume to: info@usatestprep.com.

5318bc77-d866-412b-b8cb-e17ee7c3ed16USATestprep has released test and curriculum reviews for your state’s NGSS-aligned tests. These reviews include:

    • Projector Resources
    • Educational Games
    • Practice Tests
    • Worksheets
    • Videos
    • Vocabulary Flashcards
    • Performance Tasks

To preview our NGSS-aligned content and test prep, request your 7-day trial. Our NGSS-aligned test reviews have been prepared by our subject area experts. In them, you will find questions that follow the course requirements, as well as items to reinforce the basic components of the course.