Sixty high schools across the United States have started offering Advanced Placement courses on African American studies amid the nationwide upheaval over race-based curriculum.
The College Board, a non-profit organization, announced a pilot program in February and courses began this month with the start of the school year. The curriculum will be an interdisciplinary look at the history of civil rights, as well as African American music, literature, the arts and humanities, political science, geography, science – and will explore the vital contributions and experiences of African Americans.
The first of its kind, the pilot program will expand the following academic year to add additional schools. The course is expected to be available to all interested high schools in the 2024-25 school year, allowing time to secure valuable credit and placement policies at colleges and universities, according to the College Board.
High school teachers involved in the African American Studies pilot gathered at Howard University this summer to review the course framework and prepare for the course launch, part of the comprehensive support that AP offers for educators, the College Board explained in a statement to CNN.
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.”