Today, the Advanced Placement® Program delivered its revised framework for the AP® African American Studies course, which will officially launch in the 2024-25 school year. This dynamic and robust course introduces students to the rich history, culture, and literature of African Americans and the larger African diaspora.
Amid intense public debate over this course, College Board asked subject-matter experts in the AP Program, scholars, and experienced AP teachers to revisit the course, consider the vast field of African American Studies, and determine the content required for a course reflective of the student experience in an introductory, college-level course.
This revised framework, an update of the second-year pilot framework released in February 2023, will be used when the course officially launches in the 2024-25 school year. It defines the course content, what students will see on the AP Exam, and represents more than 3 years of rigorous development work by nearly 300 African American Studies scholars, high school AP teachers, and experts within the AP Program.
“This course is a vibrant introduction to a dynamic field that offers a broader perspective. It invites students to develop analytical skills while examining African Americans’ wide-ranging experiences, contributions, and creativity, and the impact of the broader African diaspora on the world we live in,” said Dr. Brandi Waters, senior director and program manager of African American Studies in the Advanced Placement Program and lead author of the framework. “This is the course I wish I had in high school. I hope every interested student has the opportunity to take it.”
AP African American Studies is an interdisciplinary course that draws from a variety of fields—history, literature, the arts, geography, science—to explore the vital contributions and experiences of African Americans, from ancient African societies to the present. As with all AP courses in the history and social sciences, students will apply analysis and research skills as they review primary sources and original artifacts.
To develop this course framework, the AP Program consulted with professors from more than 200 colleges nationwide, including dozens of historically Black colleges and universities, along with dedicated high school teachers across the country. The course focuses on the topics—essential events, experiences, and individuals—that scholars, AP teachers, and subject-matter experts in AP find crucial to a study of African American history and culture and the African diaspora.
“AP African American Studies makes a novel contribution to the high school curriculum by providing access to an extraordinary volume of sources on Black life and culture, while introducing students to new language and powerful conceptual tools for analyzing such rich learning resources,” said Dr. Jarvis R. Givens, professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a faculty affiliate in the department of African & African American Studies at Harvard University. “It is a course made possible by hundreds of African American Studies scholars, and it takes seriously the longstanding Black intellectual tradition and, importantly, the diversity of thinking within that tradition. And while no single class can cover the full breadth, beauty, and depth of African American Studies, this interdisciplinary course provides a sturdy foundation for students to hopefully spark continued engagement and sustained study well beyond the AP classroom.”
“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,” said Dr. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University and past national president of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, and an adviser on the course. “It represents interdisciplinary learning at its best.”
The revisions to the December 2023 framework are primarily focused on the following five objectives:
- Increasing the alignment of the course content with the corresponding college courses students will receive college credit for.
- Balancing introducing students to the most important topics in the discipline while maintaining time for teacher and student choice in topics for further exploration.
- Responding to student and teacher feedback to support context, comprehension, or understanding.
- Creating a more robust source base for students to engage with an array of voices, perspectives, and source types.
- Improving the clarity and precision of the prose.
Nearly 700 schools are piloting the course in this 2023-24 academic year, representing more than 40 states and the District of Columbia and approximately 13,000 students. A total of 60 schools participated in the first year of the pilot in the 2022–2023 academic year.
Students in this second pilot year can take the AP Exam for African American Studies in spring 2024, and those scores will be available to be sent to colleges and universities for credit consideration. Early credit support from hundreds of colleges and universities surpassed expectations, and we strongly expect more colleges to offer credit for qualifying exam scores when final course reviews are completed in spring 2024.
Students across the country are eager to take this course. For years, African American Studies has been one of the most widely requested additions to the AP Program.
“There is one thing that I saw consistently as a teacher, a district leader, and as the founder of a curriculum company: when you challenge students with material that is relevant and engaging, you get amazing results,” said Kaya Henderson, founder and CEO of Reconstruction, a curriculum company, and past chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools. “That is why I am so excited about the new AP African American Studies course. It is rigorous. It will challenge students’ thinking. It reflects the world that our students see today. Every student should have the opportunity to take this class.”
College Board is thrilled that students across the country will have the opportunity to experience this rich and complex material.
“AP African American Studies has demonstrated its power to draw so many students into their first college-level coursework—by focusing on what fascinates young people we can bring so many new students into the path to college success,” said David Coleman, CEO of College Board.