APUSH Complexity Point Scoring Activity #2
Would you award the point?
For this activity, assume that you have been hired by College Board to “serve as a reader” for an upcoming AP US History Exam.
Also, assume that you have been assigned to score a DBQ essay that attempts to respond to the below appearing prompt (with this prompt found on the AP Central website; hence “it isn’t considered secure and (teachers) are free to share it on the online teacher community (OTC), discuss it openly with teachers, or distribute it to students via a LMS system.”
Evaluate the extent to which American agriculture changed in the period from 1865 to 1900.
Also, assume that you have just read an essay that includes the thesis appearing below.
To a large extent, American agriculture changed from 1865 to 1900. During this period of time, American agriculture changed in terms of where the crops were grown, who grew the crops, how the crops were shipped to market, and the amount of crops that were produced.
Assume also that you have decided to award this essay all the possible points, with the exception of the Complexity Point.
Lastly, assume that this essay closes out with the below
In this essay, I argued that American agriculture changed to a large extent from 1865 to 1900. But many African Americans would probably disagree. They would say that American agriculture didn’t change much at all for them. In support of this claim, African Americans would probably point to that fact that after 1865, they still produced agriculturue as if they were slaves (because of sharecropping). African Americans would probably also point to the fact that there were still too often prevented from owning farms after 1865, by way of scare tactics of the KKK and those who didn’t want to see African Americans succeed. And African Americans would also probably point to the fact that because of all the years of slavery, they didn’t have the money to buy the new machinery that was avaialble after 1865 so from 1865 to 1900 they still had to do things the way they were done before 1865. American agriculture from 1865 to 1900 changed to a great extent in they eyes of white people, African Americans might say; but not in the eyes, or the experiences, of most black people.
Would you award this essay the Complexity Point? I would.
Regardless, I think the best strategy for students wanting to earn the complexity point is to tack onto the end of the essay a minimum of seven sentences that seek to “qualify or modify the essay’s argument by considering a diverse or alternative view.”
That’s the strategy the student took in the example given above.
The DBQ Rubric
For a student to earn the Complexity Point, the students’ response must demonstrate a complex understanding. This could include:
- Explaining nuance by analyzing multiple variables.
- Explaining both similarity and difference, both continuity and change, or multiple causes, or both causes and effects.
- Explaining relevant and insightful connections within and across periods.
- Qualifying or modifying an argument by considering diverse or alternative views or evidence.