Diversifying curriculum: AP African American Studies course piloted by College Board

Diversifying curriculum: AP African American Studies course piloted by College Board

Photo credit: Sophia Dragich

By Sophia Dragich and Lauren Kaled

On Feb. 1, the College Board released the official curriculum for its new AP African American Studies course. The creation and development of this course led to controversy, especially in Florida where it was banned by Governor Ron DeSantis.

The curriculum took over a year to develop and is being piloted in 60 schools this school year, according to ABC News. Next school year, hundreds more will implement this class to cover topics such as African American history and culture, as well as the lives and accomplishments of Black men and women, according to the College Board course framework.

Despite causing debates, this course sparked the interest of many teachers and students, including junior Noelle Bland. She believes it could provide a chance for African American students to learn more about their history.

“I think it’s important for everyone to know their roots and where they came from,” Bland said. “There aren’t a lot of classes surrounding African American studies in general and so it just intrigued me that there was a course specifically for that.”

Similar to Bland, junior Jada Jackson claims she also sees the many benefits the class could offer. She believes that the class could touch on other important topics that [are not typically taught in normal history classes. 

“I just don’t think [the class] will be so ‘slavery-focused’, which I think a lot of the [current] stuff is,” Jackson said. “I would love to learn about famous artists, famous writers, just any area where you don’t see famous Black people at. I think that would be great exposure for our school.”

Along with student interest, teacher involvement is equally important. History teacher Bridget Cooley says this course could be beneficial for all students, as it would allow them to learn new perspectives about history.

I think learning from the past and empowering yourself to understand different perspectives is widely beneficial,” Cooley said. “It doesn’t mean we all have to see history the same, but I think learning those critical skills and thinking is something that anyone can benefit from.”

While promoting the learning of African American culture and history, the course would require actions from both students and faculty in order to bring the class to the district. Director of Secondary Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Dr. Dan Hartley says that the process would take the efforts of students, administrators, and the Social Studies departments. Hartley also says that implementing this course would fulfill the various aspects of the district’s Strategic Plan for education and provide opportunities for students to learn.

“The district Strategic Plan asks us to ‘revise the curriculum to reflect the diversity of our community,’ and to, ‘create learning environments where students will be able to identify with and see themselves in the curriculum and instruction’,” Hartley said. “The addition of this course would do all of these things and has the potential to benefit all of our students.”

Click here to access more information about the course framework