Course Intro:

This course is designed to give an in-depth introduction to students of the workings of American government. The structure of this course is designed to prepare students to take the AP U.S. Government and Politics test. However, the primary purpose of this course is to prepare students to be active participants in our democratic system of government. Additionally, emphasis will be placed on the promotion of the responsibilities of civic duty and political participation. Students will become familiar with their rights as U.S. citizens and their responsibilities in preserving those rights. This course is a graduation requirement and failure to pass will result in a failure to graduate on schedule.


Wilson, James Q., and John J. Dilulio. American Government Institutions And Policies. 16th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2019.

Course Objectives:

    • Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge of important facts, concepts and theories pertaining to U.S. government and politics.
    • Students will be able to identify typical patterns of political processes and behavior that explain the development and implementation of the U.S. political structures and procedures.
    • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the institutions, processes, and influences that make up our political institutions.
    • Students will be able to analyze and interpret basic data relevant to U.S. government and politics.

Mandated Educational Standards

Click on a link below to open up each set of standards in PDF format.


Course Overview:


Unit 1 Foundations of American Democracy 

You’ll learn how the men who created the U.S. Constitution set up a structure of government intended to stand the test of time, and how the compromises they made left some questions unresolved that continue to be debated today. On The Exam 15%–22% of multiple-choice score

Topics include:

  • The ideals of democracy as shown in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution
  • Federalist and Anti-Federalist views on central government and democracy
  • Separation of powers and “checks and balances”
  • The relationship between the states and the federal government (federalism)
  • How federalism has been interpreted differently over time


Unit 2 Interactions Among Branches of Government 

You’ll continue to explore how the government sets and administers policy, and you’ll learn about the complexities of this process. On The Exam 25%–36% of multiple-choice score

Topics include:

  • The structures, powers, and functions of each house of Congress
  • The roles and powers of the president
  • The roles and powers of the Supreme Court and other federal courts
  • The roles of the federal bureaucracy (departments, agencies, commissions, and government corporations)


Unit 3 Civil Liberties and Civil Rights 

You’ll connect what you’ve learned about the founding principles of our government to the debates over how best to balance freedom and order. On The Exam 13%–18% of multiple-choice score

Topics include:

  • The intent of the Bill of Rights
  • The First Amendment (freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press) and how the Supreme Court has interpreted it
  • The Second Amendment (the right to bear arms) and how the Supreme Court has interpreted it
  • Supreme Court interpretations of other amendments
  • How the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment have motivated social movements


Unit 4 American Political Ideologies and Beliefs 

You’ll explore the various beliefs that U.S. citizens hold about government, how these beliefs are shaped, and how they affect which policies citizens support. On The Exam 10%–15% of multiple-choice score

Topics include:

  • How cultural and social factors affect citizens’ beliefs about government
  • How polls are used to gather data about public opinion
  • The ideologies of the Democratic and Republican parties
  • How political ideologies affect policy on economic and social issues


Unit 5 Political Participation 

You will learn about the many ways that U.S. citizens can influence the decisions the government makes. On The Exam 20%–27% of multiple-choice score 

Topics include:

  • Laws that protect the right to vote
  • Why it’s hard for third parties and independent candidates to succeed
  • Interest groups and their influence
  • Campaign finance and its role in elections
  • The media’s role in elections



Grading will be based upon an objective point system using a running total in each category as assignments are added to calculate the grade. The percentage of points earned based upon the total points possible for each category will determine the letter grade. The semester grade is a running total of the grade from both quarters, not an average. Percentages are already rounded up to the next grade, so what is indicated on the progress report is the final grade. I do not give grades. You earn them. Grades are posted online in Aries.

Category Breakdown

Tests 25 %
FRQs/Essays 25%
Classwork 25 %
Applied Civics Project 15 %
Policy Paper  10%

Grading Scale

A= 100-90%

B=  89-80%

C=  79-70% Minimum score to satisfy California A-G standards.

D=  69-60%

F=   59% and below

A 5 on the AP Test will earn a retroactive A in the class and a 4 will earn a B. 



Each unit test will consist of 30 multiple choice questions with a 25 minute time limit. The AP test includes multiple choice questions and is counted as 60% of the test.


FRQ’s are short free response questions that usually ask for an analysis of some given information. They are counted as 40% of the AP test and can include multiple questions within a given topic. Each of my unit tests will include an FRQ with a 25 minute time limit written in class. In addition, each unit will include a 2-3 page essay on an assigned topic turned in before the start of each test.


    • Assignments will be turned into Google Classroom
    • Articles reviews
    • Turn in sufficiently in-depth outline notes for each of the assigned chapters that are due the day of each discussion panel.
    • Supreme Court case summaries


AP requires a project as part of the course that involves civic participation. This project will entail going to at least one public meeting per quarter and reporting on it during the current events discussion on Fridays and completing one other elective option per quarter. In addition, your assigned current events group will be following and reporting on selected news stories for at least one assigned week. 


Classroom Requirements:

These materials will be required for participation in this course and you will be required to bring them to class every day.

    • Personal Learning Device (Chromebook, laptop, or mobile tablet)
    • Sense of humor
    • Ability to discuss topics in a civil and open minded way *

*Agreeing with what you think I believe in gets you no brownie points, but articulating a well-reasoned argument from any political perspective based upon factual evidence does!

Late Assignments: 

Late assignments will NOT be accepted, unless due to absence. If you miss an assignment due to absence, you  will have the time allowed for the assignment starting from the day they receive it, after that it will not be accepted. It is your responsibility to get the work missed on the next day of attendance. Make up work at the end of the grading period for missed assignments will not be allowed.

Cheating and Plagiarism:

Plagiarism is defined as the use of someone else’s ideas or work without following fair use guidelines, proper citations, or obtaining permission. Plagiarism is a crime and any student caught plagiarizing material for any class project will receive an automatic F for the project. Repeat offenders will be referred to the administration for expulsion proceedings. You think I am tough? Wait until you have to face a lawyer in court over patent and copyright infringement!

Behavior Standards: 

  1. Be respectful to everyone.
  2. The teacher’s desk is off limits.
  3. The teacher, not the bell, will dismiss students at the end of class.
  4. No one leaves until the classroom is clean and orderly.
  5. No eating in class.