AP United States Government and Politics Syllabus

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AP United States Government and Politics 
                      Syllabus
                              American Senior High School
Textbook

American Government: Institutions and Policies, Wilson, James Q., and John J. DiLulio 
Jr., 9th Edition.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004.


Course Objective

Primarily this course is designed to improve and enhance student understanding and 
appreciation of United States Government and Politics.  Specifically the goals are for 
students to understand the doctrines of and historical background to the Constitution and 
the United States Government, be familiar with key principles such as federalism and 
separation of powers, and be able to discuss such principles as democratic theory, 
republicanism, majoritarianism, pluralism, and elitism.  Students will also achieve a 
better appreciation of how the various parts of the federal government work in unison to 
govern the citizens of the United States.

Students in this course will also improve many skills, including time management, 
organization, studying, critical reading of sources, writing communication, and the use of 
deductive and inductive reasoning.


Course Overview

This course examines the political theory and practice that dictates the daily operation of 
the United States Government and shapes U.S. policy.  This course is also intended to 
prepare students for the AP United States Government and Politics Exam.  


Course Teaching Strategies

This Course is taught at a college level through a combination of lecture, Socratic 
questioning, discussion and the analysis of College Board multiple choice and free 
response questions.  Students are expected to keep up with readings and be prepared for 
classroom instruction by keeping up with events in the news.  To do so students are 


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encouraged to read articles from The Miami Herald or find similar articles from other 
newspapers on the internet concerning government and political issues.  Periodic pop 
reading quizzes and current event homework summaries are given to ensure students 
meet these responsibilities.  

Also, a selection of primary source materials and contemporary news sources are utilized 
by the instructor for analysis during the daily lessons of class.  News sources include but 
are not limited to articles of political reports and commentary from such publications as 
The Miami Herald, New York Times and The Washington Post; local, network and cable 
news television programs; and the Internet.  These materials and articles allow students to 
study the foundations of and many examples of how Government and Politics work in the 
United States.  Such documents and articles are used to help students in their preparation 
for the FreeResponse Questions (essays) found on the AP United States Government and 
Politics Exam.  Assorted charts, polls and photographs are included in instruction and are 
commonly projected onto a white board with a digital projector through a laptop 
computer.

Furthermore, at least one FreeResponse Questions (essay) is assigned per Chapter of 
study and a 50 question multiple choice Exam will be given at the end of each Chapter of 
study.  Multiple Choice questions and FreeResponse Questions (essays) primarily will 
be taken from but are not limited to those given in previous AP United States 
Government and Politics Exams.


Course Assessment

At the end of each grading period (9 weeks) student grades will be compiled and 
measured will the following percentages designed to emulate the AP United States 
Government and Politics Exam.

45 % = Unit Tests.  Each weighted equally.
45 % = Freeresponse questions (essays). Each weighted equally.
10 % = Reading Quizzes and Current Event Summaries.  Each weighted equally.



                    Percentage Based Scores       Four Point Scale
                    90  100 = A                  3.5  4.0 = A
                    80  89   = B                 2.5  3.4 = B
                    70  79   = C                 1.5  2.4 = C


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                    60  69   = D                 1.0  1.4 = D
                    0  59     = F                0  0.9    = F


Course Outline and Planner

The course is covered in one semester and typically in the fall to coincide with any 
elections.  Therefore Thanksgiving plays a factor in the number of weeks.

Students will be responsible for reading the assigned material listed below from the 
textbook as well as additional readings.  It is necessary for students to keep up with the 
readings in order to succeed academically in this class.  Periodic reading quizzes will be 
given asking students to summarize the readings in an effort to ensure that course 
requirements are met.

The specific and final selection of all articles, polls, charts and questions is up to the 
instructor of the course and as such will not be mentioned here.  I believe this is 
necessary in an effort to better gauge and meet the ever changing needs of the students as 
instruction plays out over the school year.  Furthermore, the study of government and 
politics includes current actions and events, the unpredictability of which may dictate 
changes in the focus of certain lessons.


Textbook Readings and Lesson Focus:

First Nine Weeks 

(After reading each chapter and learning about the subjects within, students will become 
familiar with the...)

Week 1: Chapter #2 The Constitution
(factors and considerations that influenced the formulation and adoption of the U.S. 
Constitution; separation of powers; federalism; and theories of democratic government.)

Week 2: Chapter #3 Federalism 
(aspects of the Federal system in place in the United States; hierarchy and spheres of 
influence between the national, state and local governments of the United States.)

Week 3: Chapter #4 American Political Culture 


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(beliefs that U.S. citizens hold about their government and leaders; processes by which 
citizens learn about politics.)

Week 4: Chapter #5 Public Opinion 
(nature, sources, and consequences of public opinion; ways in which citizens vote and 
otherwise participate in political life; factors which influence citizens to differ from one 
another in terms of political beliefs and behaviors.)

Week 5: Chapter #7 Political Parties 
(origin and growth of Political Parties in the U.S.; how Political Parties facilitate the 
communication of interests and preferences of likeminded citizens.)

Week 6: Chapter #8 Elections and Campaigns 
(workings of the electoral process; the role of money and interest groups on campaigns; 
the laws governing elections; the ways individual campaigns operate on the local, state, 
and national level.)

Week 7: Chapter #9 Interest Groups 
(role of and growth of Interest Groups in the U.S.; how Interest Groups facilitate the 
communication of interests and preferences of likeminded citizens and interact with 
Political Parties.)




Week 8: Chapter #10 The Media 
(history of and growth of mass Media in the U.S.; how The Media facilitates the 
communication of political interests and both influences and is influenced by Political 
Parties and Interest Groups.)

Week 9: Chapter #11 Congress 
(workings of the legislative process; major formal and informal institutional functions 
and powers of the U.S. Congress; relationship to other branches of government under the 
constitution; change and evolution of Congressional powers due to specific events in 
history; links between the U.S. Congress and the following: public opinion, voters, 
interest groups, political parties, the media, local and state governments.)

Second Nine Weeks 


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(After reading each chapter and learning about the subjects within, students will become 
familiar with the...)

Week 10: Chapter #12 The Presidency 
(major formal and informal institutional functions and powers of the executive branch; 
executive branch's relationship to other branches of government under the Constitution; 
change and evolution of presidential powers due to specific events in history; links 
between the Presidency and the following: public opinion, voters, interest groups, 
political parties, the media, local and state governments.)

Week 11: Chapter #13 The Bureaucracy 
(major formal and informal institutional powers of the Federal Bureaucracy; change and 
evolution of presidential powers due to specific events in history; relationship between 
national, state and local bureaucracies; role of the national bureaucracy in forming the 
national budget; links between the Bureaucracy and the following: public opinion, voters, 
interest groups, political parties, the media, local and state governments.)

Week 12  13: Chapter #14 The Judiciary 
(workings of the judicial process; functions and powers of the federal court system; 
major formal and informal institutional functions and powers of the federal court system; 
change and evolution of the judiciary due to specific events in history; relationship of the 
Supreme Court to other branches of government under the Constitution; links between 
the Judiciary and the following: public opinion, voters, interest groups, political parties, 
the media, local and state governments.)

Week 14  15: Chapter #15 The PolicyMaking Process 
(policy making process in a federal system, the formation of policy agenda, the role of 
institutions in the enactment of policy, and the role of the bureaucracy and the courts in 
policy implementation and interpretation; history and current situation of topics such as 
foreign and defense policy, health care, economic policy, environmental policy, and 
social welfare policy.)

Week 16: Chapter #18 Civil Liberties 
(development of civil liberties and civil rights by judicial interpretation; knowledge of 
substantive rights and liberties; impact of the Fourteenth Amendment on the 
constitutional development of rights and liberties.)




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