AP U.S. Government & Politics

  • AP Government AP United States Government & Politics 


    Course Overview  Advanced Placement United States Government is a one semester course that runs in conjunction with Enriched Economics.  Students enrolled in AP Government will loop to Enriched Economics. Both courses are weighted (AP Government 1.05/ Enriched Economics 1.03), and both courses are required for graduation.  AP Government is the advanced senior-level Participation in Government (PIG) course. Enriched Economics is the required senior-level economics course. Each class is eighty minutes in length.  Students will take a national examination in May, and a local examination in June. AP U.S. Government and Politics is equivalent to a one-semester introductory college course in U.S. government.

    Course Description  AP U.S. Government and Politics provides a college-level, nonpartisan, introduction to key political concepts, ideas, institutions, policies, interactions, roles, and behaviors that characterize the constitutional system and political culture of the United States.  Students will study U.S. foundational documents, Supreme Court decisions, and other texts and visuals to gain an understanding of the relationships and interactions among political institutions, processes, and behaviors. They will also engage in disciplinary practices that require them to read and interpret data, make comparisons and applications, and develop evidence-based arguments.  In addition, they will complete a political science research or applied civics project.

    Inherent in this conceptual framework is a rigorous study involving course-approved textbook(s), supplemental textbooks, newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal, news magazines like Time, Newsweek, and The Week, television news footage and documentaries from MSNBC, CNN, C-SPAN, radio clips from National Public Radio, and numerous websites.  Students will be required to demonstrate their knowledge through the writing of high-level free-response questions that call upon them to evaluate the material presented throughout the course.  Students will be expected to demonstrate a competent understanding of the current issues that challenge the representative democracy in which they live.

    Content Outline  There are five course units in AP U.S. Government and Politics.  Each unit details key content and conceptual understandings that colleges and universities typically expect students to master in order to qualify for college credit and/or placement.  The five units are:

    • Unit 1:  Foundations of American Democracy
    • Unit 2:  Interactions Among Branches of Government
    • Unit 3:  Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
    • Unit 4:  American Political Ideologies and Beliefs
    • Unit 5:  Political Participation

    Required Summer/Nightly Work  Students will be expected to successfully complete a summer assignment prior to the commencement of class.  They will also be required to complete nightly reading. For each assigned chapter, students will read and outline the content of the chapter.  They will also receive alternate assignments containing close reading and critical thinking questions associated with the chapter. Lecture and Socratic seminar will be used primarily throughout class, but activities will reinforce the most challenging concepts.  Students will be responsible for leading discussions or seminars during the duration of the course. Students will focus on their essay construction and writing skills by responding to a variety of essays and Free Response Questions throughout the semester.  They will also be responsible for remaining current with events in the news.  Each day, class will include a discussion of current events (public policy, international relations, etc.)

    Required Course Readings

    The required texts for this course are:

    • Harrison, Harris, Deardorff, American Democracy Now, 6th Ed., McGraw Hill Education
    • Supplementary articles from the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and The Week

    These readings will be supplemented with classroom handouts throughout the semester.

    Grading and Evaluation Policy  This course is one semester in length and is required for graduation.  Quarter 1 is worth 40% of your overall grade. Quarter 2 is worth 40% of your overall grade.  Your local/district exam is worth 20% of your overall grade. In addition, your score on the AP examination in May will determine whether you receive college credit.  Within each quarter, tests and alternate assessments (chapter quizzes and analytical free-response questions) are cumulatively worth 50% of the quarter grade. Homework, classwork, projects, debate/seminar, and class participation are cumulatively worth 50% of the quarter grade.  

    Late Assignments  My expectation is that you make every effort to attend class.  I understand that you will get sick, have family obligations, etc.  However, please do your best to schedule appointments and other obligations outside of class time.  Getting ready for a national exam takes a lot of preparation and hard work. Assignments must be submitted in a timely manner.  If you miss class, and your absence is excused, you have until the day you return to submit your assignment for full credit.  All work submitted late without an excused absence, will receive a maximum of half credit.  

    Current Events  Students are responsible for keeping up with current events as they relate to the content of the course.  Students are encouraged to follow publications like The Buffalo News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.  Students are also encouraged to listen to National Public Radio (NPR), or other radio news programs.  They are also encouraged to watch television news stations like CNN or MSNBC, or access them online.

    Using Graphs, Maps, and Charts  Students will be assessed on their understanding of quantitative and visually presented information at regular intervals through free-response questions, quizzes, tests, and other assignments.

    Course Final Examination  Students will be given an in-class local final examination in January to exit the course.  The in-class final examination is 20% of the final course grade.

    AP Final Examination  Prior to the May AP Examination, students will engage in review for the national examination. A monthly calendar will be provided to pace students and ensure that they are staying connected to the class material.  All review for the national examination will take place IN CLASS.* 

    *Please note that the week prior to the national examination, students will engage in AP Government review during economics class time.  The course has been designed to allow for this format.

    Community Service Component (Please see files & links below for guidance.)

    Throughout the school year, you will be required to complete the following Community Service Requirements:


    1. Write a letter to a newspaper, public official, or public agency concerning a public policy issue.  You will need to submit a rough draft to Mrs. Welgoss for approval.  Upon approval, you will mail one copy and submit one final copy to Mrs. Welgoss.  The letter must be a correctly prepared business letter with an addressed, stamped #10 envelope.
    2. Complete a community service project totaling 10 hours and ONE public meeting from the following list:
    • School board
    • Town board
    • Town/city court
    • Zoning meetings
    • Special purpose meetings
    • State/federal government hearings

    Students must turn in a completed, signed attendance form for their community service hours and public meeting attendance.  Prior teacher approval is required for community service hours.  Completed forms must be signed and completed.  Service hours cannot be performed during school hours or as part of a school activity.

     All requirements must be completed during this semester to meet graduation requirements.

    Current Events

    Students are responsible for keeping up with current events as they relate to the content of the course.  Students will be required to peruse the front pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal.  Students will also listen to National Public Radio (NPR), and other radio news programs.  They will be required to watch a television news station like CNN or MSNBC, or access a reliable online edition. 

    Furthermore, students will maintain a journal in which they will keep track of the connections they make between the readings or news stories they watch and the content they are studying in class.  They will be asked to record the date, the medium, title of the article or story, and a brief description of how it relates to the course.  Students will be required to submit their journal as a homework assignment grade. 

    Using Graphs, Maps, and Charts

    Students will be assessed on their understanding of quantitative and visually presented information at regular intervals through free-response questions, quizzes, tests, and other assignments.

    AP Government/Enriched Economics SUPPLIES

    • One 2 ½ inch binder
    • 10 divider tabs
    • Loose-leaf paper (to be kept in binder and extra in locker for the year)
    • Pens & pencils (to be kept on student for personal use)
    • Highlighters (to be kept on student for personal use)



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