AP African American Studies Course Finalized After Months of Debate

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Following months of discussion and public scrutiny, the College Board has unveiled the final framework for its Advanced Placement (AP) course in African American Studies.

The revised curriculum includes more in-depth coverage of topics such as the history of slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Black Power Movement. It also allows teachers greater flexibility to decide which topics to cover in depth and which to address more briefly.

The course, which will be offered in high schools beginning next fall, focuses on the history and contributions of African Americans in the United States. Around 13,000 students are testing a pilot version in nearly 700 schools across 40 states, reports USA TODAY.

The release on Wednesday follows nearly a year of fierce debate ignited by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who publicly condemned the course in January as “indoctrination” and said it “lacks educational value.”

When the initial framework was released in February, it drew criticism from civil rights advocates and educators for insufficiently covering critical aspects of Black history and culture. This led to speculation that it had been watered down following conservative pressure.

In response to these concerns, the College Board announced in April that it would release a revised framework. This updated version, released this week, reinstates previously removed concepts and terms such as “systemic” and “intersectionality.” Additionally, it introduces a new component in AP courses: a week dedicated to “further explorations” on contemporary or classroom-relevant topics chosen by teachers.

“In terms of required content, we tried to focus on materials that we heard from colleges should be included in an introductory course,” Brandi Waters, senior director of AP African American Studies at the College Board, told USA TODAY.

The revision also emphasizes required topics on African Americans’ contributions to the arts and sports, reflecting interests highlighted by students in the pilot program.

The College Board reports that 45 percent of students in the pilot program are new to AP classes, and 80 percent have said they are considering further enrollment in African American studies and other advanced courses.

“It’s been so meaningful to so many students, parents and educators,” Waters said. “Students are really excited to learn things they hadn’t learned before, and something that resonates with their lives today.”