This fall, sixty schools across the United States will offer Advanced Placement courses on African American studies.
Earlier this year, the College Board announced a pilot program for African American studies after the nationwide upheaval over teaching race in schools. In partnership with academic and cultural institutions, the new AP courses will be a multidisciplinary look at the history of civil rights, as well as African American music, literature, the arts and humanities, political science, geography, science.
Advanced Placement courses offer a rigorous coursework that help to strengthen transcripts and make college applicants standout. Most high schools offer AP exams in courses such as Calculus, Environmental Sciences, Algebra and other common subjects. However, African American studies has often been overlooked as an option for an AP class. If this pilot program pans out, it will be the first African American AP course to offer coursework that allows students to receive a college credit.
The Advanced Placement pilot program will move the needle on the topic of having race-based curriculums in the United States. In an EducationWeek article, Lawrence Paska explained more about this topic. “The general study of African American history, when taught in K-12 schools is often embedded within other social studies courses. But a standalone course at the high school level that is doing more than just providing a survey look at history and instead digging into, understanding, and celebrating culture as its own area of study is less common.”
Renowned educator Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. hailed the new curriculum, saying the course work is “rigorously vetted” and should not be confused with the critical race theory concept, which has become a social and political lightning rod.
“Nothing is more dramatic than having the College Board launch an AP course in a field – that signifies ultimate acceptance and ultimate academic legitimacy,” Gates said in a statement. “AP African American Studies is not CRT. It’s not the 1619 Project. It is a mainstream, rigorously vetted, academic approach to a vibrant field of study.”