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The AP exam on African American History has been unveiled. It's still generating discontent

Dozens of beautiful homes line the streets of Frenchtown, an unparalleled hub of Black Florida history in the heart of Tallahassee (file photo).
Craig Moore
WFSU Public Media
Dozens of beautiful homes line the streets of Frenchtown, an unparalleled hub of Black Florida history in the heart of Tallahassee (file photo).

The College Board has released its final version of a new Advanced Placement African American history course that’s recently generated blowback from some conservatives. The board says the revisions to the course were already underway prior to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration taking issue with some of the material.

The College Board says it received zero feedback on the course from states and that there was no pathway for them to do so. In a statement about the finalized version of the course, the College Board stated, “No states or districts have seen the official framework that is released, much less provided feedback on it. This course has been shaped only by the input of experts and long-standing AP principles and practices.”

The only entities that had access to what was contained within the pilot course were the pilot schools. Yet somehow, the pilot curriculum leaked: photocopies of parts of the course were circulating online and the National Review noted it had received a copy of parts of the materials in September.

Revisions to the course were finalized in December—a month before Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida education officials announced in mid-January that they would reject the course due to its interpretations of contemporary issues in Black history—such as the Black Lives Matter movement.

In the final framework of the course, many of the modules DeSantis and Diaz took issue with, are no longer there. But they also may never have been there in the first place. According to a source familiar with the pilot program, the parts about gender identity, intersectionality, and Black Lives Matter were part of a later module in the course that many students may not have even gotten to, yet.

The College Board says the finalized version of the AP African American History course will “focus on primary sources over theories.”

In an interview with CBS Good Morning earlier this week College Board CEO David Coleman said, “it’s not about picking this theory or that. No AP course…requires students to study a specified theory or trains them in an interpretation. Instead, it immerses them directly in the facts and evidence and lets them think for themselves.”

And yet the outcry over the course is not over. Just as DeSantis told the College Board in January that Florida wouldn’t approve the course with the disputed lessons in there, the state of Illinois countered—saying it wouldn’t approve the course, without them. And Wednesday, Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor wrote a letter to the governor regarding the course.

In his letter, Proctor called on the governor to start from scratch and develop a new African American History curriculum. Proctor also questioned the authority of the College Board.

In its statement, the College Board notes it does not develop new AP courses unless there’s a demand from colleges and universities for it. The board says more than 200 institutions have already agreed to accept AP credits when high schoolers pass the AP African American studies exam.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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