College Board, the nonprofit testing company that offers AP courses as a way for high schoolers to earn credits for college, released the new curriculum in December. The revisions are a result of the College Board having to rework “the recommended course material” after being embroiled in controversy for much of last year.
The Florida state Department of Education had initially banned the course from being taught in schools, claiming that it violated state laws which limited “how certain topics can be taught.”
Senior director and program manager of AP African American Studies Brandi Waters, said, “[a]fter we heard clear and principled criticism that the second version of the course framework designated far too much essential content as optional, including some of the foundational concepts, we decided to revise the framework in response to this critique, and also to feedback from students and teachers in the course.”
Waters was clear that “[n]o revisions were made to any versions of the framework at the request or influence of any state.”
What’s different? There are entirely new sections, previously designated as optional for projects, that will be a part of the AP final exam. In addition, there are also “[n]ew required topics, focusing on African Americans’ contributions to the arts and sport.”
There were also changes made to some of the preexisting content areas, including “new required information on grassroots organizing, such as the work of the Coordinating Council of Community Organizations to protest school segregation in Chicago; information on the origins and beliefs of the Nation of Islam; and discussion of concepts such as ‘interlocking systems of oppression’ and intersectionality.”
“The revised AP course in African American Studies brilliantly meets the many thousand requests by high school students for college-level research and discovery, as well as for creativity and balanced engagement with the multifaceted Black experience,” stated Harvard University Professor Dr. Evenlyn Brooks Higginbotham, who was a past national president of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
For context, the course “was created for two primary reasons: to legitimize Black history as a necessary subject matter in American schools and to reverse the underrepresentation of Black students in AP courses.”
“It took about a decade to fully formulate the coursework, according to the College Board, which worked with more than 200 educators at colleges, universities and other institutions across the country,” USA Today reports.
And the interdisciplinary course is already making its mark—“[t]eachers have come out of retirement…and administrators and coaches who don’t normally work in classrooms have committed to teaching it.” In addition, it has sparked dialogue between students and parents, taking the learning beyond the classroom.