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AP® Government Syllabus
Mike Raymond
RHS (room H-103)
[email protected]
Course Description
In this semester-long, college-level course, we will explore the formal and informal structures that contribute to the
American political process. Students will become familiar with frequently used terminology related to government and
political systems, and will study the historical development of such systems in America. While the course will provide
intensive preparation for the AP U.S. Government exam in May, it will also help students develop essential skills
necessary for collegiate success, such as formal writing, note-taking, critical thinking, and analytical reading. The
ultimate goal of the course is to create critical consumers of mass media, productive and knowledgeable citizens, and
strong future leaders.
Required Text
Edwards, George C. III, Martin P. Wattenburg, and Robert L. Lineberry. Government in America: People, Politics, and
Policy, 10th ed. New York: Longman, 2002.
Supplemental Resources
Woll, Peter, ed. American Government: Readings and Cases. 15th ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2004.
Wood, Ethel and Bonnie Herzog. Multiple-Choice and Free-Response Questions in Preparation for the AP U.S.
Government and Politics Exam. 6th ed. New York: D & S Marketing, 2009.
Textbook website: – Online review topics and test preparatory materials (Instructor will provide login information)
NOTE: Students will also be provided with a study guide.
Teacher Resources
Benson, David and Karen Waples. Fast Track to a 5: Preparing for the AP* United States Government and Politics
Examination. Geneva, IL: McDougal Littell.
Lamb, Patricia. 5 Steps to a 5: AP US Government and Politics 2012-2013. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011.
Schmidt, Steffen, et al. American Government and Politics Today 2013-2014. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning, 2013.
Stanley, Harold and Richard Niemi. Vital Statistics on American Politics 2013-2014. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2013.
Course Expectations
Students must take primary responsibility for their learning. Students are expected to participate in all activities in a
positive, constructive manner. Students must be prepared to contribute. This is a college-level course. Students must
commit to a college-level attitude. This means completing all assignments on time and being prepared. A schedule for this
class will be posted each day. Students are expected to enter the class ready to learn, and to read the schedule to determine
what actions (if any) they need to take to be prepared to begin. Students will work “from bell to bell.” At the ringing of
the bell signaling the end of class, I will release students. They are not to leave without being dismissed.
It is essential that AP Government students keep up with the outside reading assignments, which may be in the form of
textbook pages, online articles, or handouts provided by the teacher. Much like other college level courses, the reading
load for the course will be intensive. A reading schedule for each unit will be posted on my website. Reading quizzes will
be given to determine students’ levels of understanding the reading material. Students will also take vocabulary quizzes
for each unit to check for understanding of key terms, including documents, court cases, or terminology.
In addition to the traditional reading assignments, students will be expected to keep up with current events. Students
should become accustomed to consuming news information from a variety of quality sources, including, but not limited
to: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Star Telegram, CNN,
MSNBC, Fox News, BBC, PBS, and NPR. Students will participate in assignments that require them to apply their study
of U.S. government and politics to current events.
Formative assessment will be completed by the teacher during class discussions, in which every student will be expected
to participate. This will allow the teacher to gauge student understanding and to clarify the study material. Hopefully
these discussions will allow the students to expand on their own understanding by trading ideas and interpretations with
their peers.
Students will practice extensively with released free response questions from previous AP exams. In class free response
questions will be assigned at least once every three weeks. All writings will be timed to help students learn to write
within the time restraints of the AP exam. Students will also participate in peer review of essays in order to familiarize
themselves with the grading process and rubric standards.
Course Outline
The presentation of course material will coincide with the percentage of multiple choice questions from each content area
on the Advanced Placement test, as stated by College Board. The scope and sequence of this course is largely reflective
of this weighting, with consideration given to the instructional calendar and textbook treatment of these subjects.
Constitutional Foundations and Historical Context- 5-15%
Political Beliefs and Behavior- 10-20%
Political Parties, Interest Groups, and Mass Media- 10-20%
Institutions of National Government- 35-45%
Public Policy- 5-15%
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties- 5-15%
Advanced Placement Exam
The AP exam for U.S. Government and Politics is 2 hours and 25 minutes long. It includes a 45-minute multiple choice
section consisting of sixty questions and a 100-minute free-response section consisting of four questions.
While excellent performance on the AP exam is a goal of this course, the main focus should remain on learning the
material and developing good study and analysis skills. The instructor will provide many opportunities for students to
prepare for the AP test, including multiple choice tests with questions from released exams, and in-class practice with free
response questions from previous exams. Students will become familiar with the grading practices for the AP exam, to
understand the scoring guidelines and process. All students will be required to sit for two mock exam.
Tentative Scope and Sequence
Est. Time Frame
Unit 1:
Foundations of
Guiding Questions
What historical events and philosophies shaped the principles of the
Edwards, et al.: Chapters 1, 2, and 3
Graphic organizer:
Constitutional Foundations of the
Constitution and Bill of Rights
(2.5 weeks)
What early challenges did the Constitution face in the new
The Federalist Papers #10, 39, 47, 48, 51
What were the major areas of contention surrounding the
ratification debate? How were they settled?
What are the major principles of the Constitution? How does
federalism function in the United States?
What does “democracy” mean? Compare the differing historical
interpretations of the term.
Woll: Locke “Second Treatise,” Berelson
“Democratic Practice and Democratic
Articles of Confederation (selected
Declaration of Independence (selected
U.S. Constitution
How would the founding fathers of the Constitution view our
interpretation of the document today?
Analysis activity:
Provisions of the Constitution
Analysis activity:
Constitutional Solutions to Grievances
Analysis activity:
Interpreting The Federalist Papers
Theories of Government and Democracy
Locke, Rousseau, and Hobbes
Analysis activity:
Theory and Practice in American
Socratic seminar/Chart:
Aspects of Federalism – Categorize areas
of responsibility (national/state) in federal
Socratic seminar:
Formal and Informal Means of Changing
the Constitution
Unit 1 reading and/or vocabulary quizzes
M/C exam
Unit 2:
Civil Liberties
and Civil Rights
(2.5 weeks)
What key Supreme Court cases shaped our understanding of civil
rights and liberties in the United States?
Edwards, et al: Chapters 4 and 5
Socratic seminar:
Defining and Interpreting Basic Freedoms
Bill of Rights
How has the Bill of Rights been interpreted by the federal court
How has the Supreme Court interpretation of the Constitution and
its amendments impacted society?
Assess the strengths and weaknesses of Supreme Court decisions as
tools of social change.
How has the 14th Amendment and the doctrine of selective
incorporation been used to extend protection of civil rights and
We The People: Due process and
Majority opinion, Grutter v. Bollinger
(selected sections)
Majority opinion, Gratz v. Bollinger
(selected sections)
Supreme Court decisions regarding:
 Freedom of Religion (Engel v. Vitale,
Lemon v. Kurtzman, Reynolds v. U.S.,
Oregon v. Smith)
 Freedom of Expression (Schenck v.
U.S., New York Times v. Sullivan,
Near v. Minnesota, Roth v. U.S.,
Tinker v. Des Moines, Texas v.
Johnson, Miller v. California)
 Selective Incorporation (Gitlow v.
New York, Barron v. Baltimore)
 Due Process (Weeks v. U.S., Mapp v.
Ohio, Miranda v. Arizona, Gideon v.
 Equal Protection (Dred Scott v.
Sandford, Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown
v. Board of Education, Regents of the
University of California v. Bakke,
Grutter v. Bollinger)
 Right to Privacy (Griswold v.
Connecticut, Roe v. Wade, Webster v.
Reproductive Health Services,
Planned Parenthood v. Casey)
Current events regarding the continuing
evolution of civil rights and civil
Analysis activity:
How the Supreme Court Interprets First
Amendment Freedoms and Rights of the
Case study:
Evolution of Affirmative Action Evaluate the strict scrutiny principle and
its application
Interactive lecture/Synthesis activity:
Evolution of Civil Rights and Civil
Liberties – Categorizing and ordering
significant Supreme Court cases
Unit 2 reading and/or vocabulary quizzes
M/C exam with essays
FRQ practice
Unit 3:
Public Opinion,
Parties, and
Interest Groups
What factors shape public opinion?
Edwards, et al.: Chapters 6, 8, and 11
What is political socialization and how do individual’s beliefs
Woll: “Toward a More Responsible TwoParty System,” “Perspectives on American
Political Parties”
(2 weeks)
What are linkage institutions, and why are these important?
How does public opinion influence the political process?
Examine the influence of demographic factors on political
participation and ideology.
Assess the various means by which individuals participate in
American politics.
How do political parties impact the political process?
What has led to calls for party reform?
How do interest groups affect the political process, and what
advantages do they garner for represented sectors?
What are the ideological stances of the major parties, and how have
these changed throughout American history?
 Websites of minor parties
 Websites of significant interest groups
(NRA, Sierra Club, NAACP,
Currents events regarding the impact of
party organizations and interest groups on
American government and politics
Interactive lecture/Personal evaluation:
Defining Liberalism and Conservatism in
America – Examine where major parties
stand on issues today and how these views
have evolved over time
Key features chart:
Party Eras and Key Elections in American
Compare/contrast chart:
Functions and Structures of Political
Guided study:
Public Opinion, Political Ideologies and
Analysis Activity:
PACs and the American Political Process
Analysis activity:
The Role of Political Parties in American
Government and Politics
Unit 3 reading and/or vocabulary quizzes
What roles have minor parties played in politics?
M/C exam
What are PACs, and how do they affect the political process?
Unit 4:
Elections, and
the Media
What factors shape voter behavior?
Edwards, et al.: Chapters 9, 10, 7
Assess efforts to reform campaign strategy and finance. What has
provided the impetus for this movement?
Woll: “Buckley v. Valeo,” “Campaign
Finance Reform,” “A Theory of Critical
Elections,” “Politics by Other Means”
(2 weeks)
What role does the media play in campaigns, elections, and
Evaluate the concept of image and image development. How do
candidates and public officials groom their image, and how does
image impact elections?
Describe the relationship between candidates for office and the
How does the motivation and structure of media organizations
influence the nature of news coverage in America?
How has the growth of the Internet changed media in America?
What have been the historical advantages and disadvantages of the
electoral college system?
Charts/graphs showing historical
campaign finance figures
Electoral maps from historical elections
Transcript of Nixon-Kennedy debate
(selected sections)
 Kennedy/Nixon 1960 debate (selected
 Political advertisements (2008 “red
phone” Hillary Clinton ads, 1988
Bush-Dukakis “Willy Horton” ads
and “Tank” ad, 1964 Johnson “Daisy”
ad, 2012 Obama “Big Bird” ad)
Charts/graphs showing historical voter
participation rates
Current events regarding elections and
Analysis activity:
Examining Campaign Finance Reform
Analysis activity:
Assessing the Role of Elections in a
“Postelectoral Era”?
Case study:
The Importance of Image and Media –
Interpret differing perceptions of the
Nixon-Kennedy debate
Interactive lecture:
Campaigns and the Media
Socratic seminar:
Addressing Voter Apathy
Unit 4 reading and/or vocabulary quizzes
Simulation (Assessment):
Campaign Image and Strategy Project Create a campaign strategy proposal with
advertisement for a historical (or current)
presidential candidate, addressing image,
political culture, public opinion, campaign
issues, third party impact, coalition
building, media’s role, volunteerism,
funding, and voter turnout
Unit 5:
What powers does Congress possess, according to Article I of the
(2 weeks)
How have congressional powers evolved over time, and what tools
has Congress used to expand its power?
Edwards, et al.: Chapter 12
Analysis activity:
The Importance of Reelection
Woll: “Congress and the Quest for Power”
How is Congress organized, and how does this system impact its
What is the relationship between Congress and the other branches
of government, and how has the balance of power shifted over the
course of American history?
How does Congress interact with political parties, interest groups,
the media, the federal bureaucracy, and state and local governments
(including redistricting)?
Assess the extent and means by which members of Congress serve
their constituents.
U.S. Constitution, Article I
Shmoop: “How a Bill Becomes a Law”
 “I’m Just a Bill”
 CSPAN footage
Current events regarding Congress and
new legislation
Interactive lecture/Flowchart:
How a Bill Becomes a Law
Compare/contrast chart:
Bicameral Structure of Congress
Joint Resolution Writing – Examine a
joint resolution and use it as a guide for
writing a new one, then act as a
conference committee to work out
differences between two versions
Socratic seminar:
Congressional Powers and Functions
Unit 5 reading and/or vocabulary quizzes
What factors shape congressional elections?
M/C exam
FRQ practice
Unit 6:
The Presidency
and Federal
What powers does the executive branch hold, according to Article
II of the Constitution?
How have the president’s powers evolved over time, and what tools
has the president used to expand his power?
Edwards, et al.: Chapters 13 and 15
Woll: “Focus of Leadership,”
“Presidential Power,” and “Presidential
(2 weeks)
How is the executive branch organized, and how does this impact
the political process and policy implementation?
What is the relationship between the executive branch and the other
branches of government, and how has the balance of power shifted
over the course of American history?
How does the executive branch interact with political parties,
interest groups, the media, and state and local governments
(including types of federalism)?
U.S. Constitution, Article 2
Biographical information on a variety of
prominent individuals and historical
presidential candidates
Photos and primary sources from
historical presidencies
Current event regarding the president and
Case study:
Presidential Selection Activity – Examine
formal and informal qualifications for the
Analysis activity:
Nature of the Presidency
Case study:
Examining Presidential Decisionmaking –
Examine the factors that impact
presidential decisions, applying these to
Kennedy’s actions in the Cuban Missile
Many Facets of Presidential Leadership –
Organize “artifacts” from historical
presidencies to identify roles played by
these individuals in shaping their eras
Socratic seminar:
Aspects of the Presidency and Cabinet
Interactive lecture:
The Bureaucracy
FRQ practice
Unit 6 reading and/or vocabulary quizzes
M/C exam
Unit 7:
What powers does the judicial branch hold, according to Article III
of the Constitution?
(2 weeks)
How have the judiciary’s powers evolved over time, and what tools
has the judiciary used to expand its power?
Edwards, et al.: Chapter 16
Woll: “How the Supreme Court Arrives at
U.S. Constitution, Article 3
How is the judicial branch organized, and how does this impact the
political process and policy implementation?
What is the relationship between the judicial branch and the other
branches of government, and how has the balance of power shifted
over the course of American history?
How does the judicial branch interact with political parties, interest
groups, the media, and state and local governments (including types
of federalism)?
Historical information on the Marshall
Court, Hughes Court, Warren Court,
Burger Court, Rehnquist Court, and the
“court packing plan”
Current events regarding Supreme Court
Unit 8:
The Federal
Budget and
Economic Policy
What roles do the president, bureaucracy, and Congress play in the
formation of the federal budget?
Edwards, et al.: Chapters 14 and 17
Guided study:
Structure and Functions of the Judicial
Compare/contrast chart:
Civil and Criminal Cases
How the Supreme Court Arrives at
Analysis activity:
Assessing Significant Eras of the Supreme
Key features chart:
Thirty Most Important Supreme Court
Unit 7 reading and/or vocabulary quizzes
Interactive lecture:
Budget and Economic Policy
Federal budget charts/graphs
How is the budgetary process influenced by various actors,
interests, institutions, and processes?
(1 week)
How significant is the federal budget in terms of policy
Short readings on the Federal Reserve and
New Deal agencies put in place to control
the economy
How is the federal budget impacted by political considerations?
 “Frontline: Inside the Meltdown”
How does the federal government implement fiscal and monetary
policy to control the economy?
Current events regarding the budget and
Socratic seminar:
Historical Development of Governmental
Economic Controls
Case study:
2008 Financial Crisis – Identify the role of
fiscal and monetary policy in controlling
the 2008 financial crisis
Unit 8 reading and/or vocabulary quizzes
M/C exam
Unit 9:
Public Policy
(1 week)
What factors (actors, interests, institutions, and processes) influence
the formation of public policy agendas - including the impact of
politics and the role of federalism?
What are “policy networks” and “issue networks” in the foreign and
domestic policy arenas?
In what way do geographic location and key natural resources
impact the United States’ relationship with other countries?
How does U.S. foreign policy affect other countries worldwide?
Edwards, et al.: Chapters 18, 19, and 20
(selected sections)
Guided Study:
Domestic and Foreign Policy
 Textbook web pages on policy
 Websites devoted to different policy
Socratic seminar:
Policymaking and Interests
Unit 9 reading and/or vocabulary quizzes
FRQ practice
Current events regarding legislation and
policy debates
How does the U.S. government use economic resources in foreign
Examine the policymaking and implementation process, including
the role of three branches of the federal government and the
What current policy issues are being debated in American society
(such as the environment, health care, foreign policy, defense,
social welfare, and economics)?
What roles do the executive (president and bureaucracy), legislative
and judicial branch play in the formation and implementation of
public policy?
What is the relationship between the federal government and state
and local bureaucratic institutions in the formation and
implementation of public policy?
End of Course
Review concepts through FRQ practice (brainstorming, writing,
peer review)
(1 week)
Mock exam
Shmoop review topics and practice
FRQ practices