AP test question comparing liberals and conservatives sparks controversy

Virginia’s largest school district pulls AP Government test question amid outrage

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Fairfax County is Virginia’s largest school district, and one of the biggest in the country. A recent test question in an advanced placement (AP) government course asked students a multiple-choice question to choose an “accurate comparison of liberals versus conservatives.”

Some concerned parents say regardless of your politics, you should be furious with the nature of the question.

The choices represented a bunch of stereotypical identities — based on race, gender, sexuality and age.

The options written under the liberal column were: “Young, white males”; “Middle-aged, urban lesbian”; “College-educated black male professional”; and “White, upper-middle class suburban male.”

Under the conservative column, the choices were: “East Coast, Ivy League educated scientists”; “Southern male migrant laborer”; “Catholic, midwestern middle-aged male”; and “West Coast, Hispanic teacher.”

Fairfax County parent Rory Cooper tweeted a screenshot of a test question used in an AP Government course. (@rorycooper)

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Rory Cooper, a Fairfax County father with a background in politics, sharply criticized the school district.

“Telling a student that certain people belong in a political philosophy because of who they are, what their gender is, what their race is, that’s not following political trends. That’s telling somebody that they should believe one certain set of beliefs because of their identity,” Cooper told Fox News in an interview. “Right now, it’s it really feels like it’s more about practicing ideology rather than practicing academia.” 

In a statement to Fox News, a district spokesperson said, “Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) accepts that an AP Government test question, designed to assess 12th graders’ understanding of American political ideology, did not meet the division’s high expectations. The question, which formed part of an assessment for 12th graders enrolled in the FCPS Online Campus, will be removed from future tests and a review of all AP Government Online Campus test questions will be carried out.”

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The College Board, the national organization creating and overseeing advanced placement programs, denounced the question — quote: “We did not and would not create a question like that for AP students. Neither the content nor the format of this question is appropriate for an AP Exam.” 

This is the latest embarrassment for one of the nation’s largest school districts.

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Fairfax County Public Schools are under investigation by Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares after some of its high schools did not tell students they had received National Merit recognition to avoid upsetting others who had not, an issue the district also vowed to probe.

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, seen here, already has been investigating Fairfax County Public Schools.

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, seen here, already has been investigating Fairfax County Public Schools. (Julia Rendleman for The Washington Post via Getty Images, File)

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Miyares also has been investigating the prestigious Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria about whether changes to the school’s admissions policy violated state law.

He noted that changes to the school’s admissions policy with an eye toward diversity may have broken Virginia law when they resulted in a decline in the number of Asian students admitted to the school. 



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