Home National College Board releases revised AP African American studies course material

College Board releases revised AP African American studies course material

Emmitt Glynn teaches AP African American studies to a group of Baton Rouge Magnet High School students on Jan. 30, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo: Stephen Smith/AP)

(CNN) — The College Board released a revised curriculum of its Advanced Placement African American Studies course Wednesday, ahead of an expected Fall 2024 launch.

The board, a non-profit that oversees AP coursework and administers the SAT college admissions test, said in a statement it asked “subject-matter experts in the AP Program, scholars, and experienced AP teachers to revisit the course” amid the “intense public debate.”

Earlier this year, the board faced criticism from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and others who accused the course framework of imposing a “political agenda.” The Florida Department of Education also rejected a preliminary pilot version of the class, claiming it “lacks educational value” and violates a state law that bans the teaching of critical race theory.

The College Board first announced its decision to make changes to the course’s framework in April. The new version released Wednesday includes additional images of the Tulsa Race Massacre and maps of redlining, and new sections on the involvement of African Americans in World War II, including the Tuskegee Airmen, and the contributions of African Americans to music, theater, film and sports.

The framework covers dozens of topics that range from early African kingdoms and the transatlantic slave trade to the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Civil Rights Movement.  The topics are divided in four major units: “Origins of the African Diaspora,” “Freedom, Enslavement, and Resistance,” “The Practice of Freedom,” and “Movements and Debates.”

The board said the revised framework will primarily focus on five objectives, including “increasing the alignment of the course content with the corresponding college courses students will receive college credit for” and “balancing introducing students to the most important topics in the discipline while maintaining time for teacher and student choice in topics for further exploration.”

Topics such as Black Lives Matter and the reparations debate are listed in the revised framework as suggestions to discuss after the coursework is completed during a “further explorations” week, which should not be part of the AP Exam.

Those topics were initially included in a previous version of the course framework on a list of examples of subjects that students can pick for research projects. Florida education officials rejected an initial version of the course that included those topics as well as Black queer studies.

The revised framework “defines the course content, what students will see on the AP Exam, and represents more than 3 years of rigorous development work by nearly 300 African American Studies scholars, high school AP teachers, and experts within the AP Program,” the College Board said in its Wednesday statement.

“This course is a vibrant introduction to a dynamic field that offers a broader perspective. It invites students to develop analytical skills while examining African Americans’ wide-ranging experiences, contributions, and creativity, and the impact of the broader African diaspora on the world we live in,” Brandi Waters, senior director and program manager of African American Studies at College Board’s Advanced Placement Program and lead author of the framework, said in the statement.

“This is the course I wish I had in high school. I hope every interested student has the opportunity to take it,” Waters added.

An estimated 13,000 students across the country are currently enrolled in a pilot version of the course, which is being offered in nearly 700 schools in more than 40 states and the District of Columbia, the board said. The pilot course was first offered in 60 schools during the 2022-2023 academic year.

“AP African American Studies has demonstrated its power to draw so many students into their first college-level coursework — by focusing on what fascinates young people we can bring so many new students into the path to college success,” David Coleman, CEO of College Board, said in a statement.

CNN’s Tina Burnside and Denise Royal contributed to this report. 

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