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Will Arkansas change its mind and stop refusing to grant AP credit for African American Studies?



Little Rock, Arkansas – The Advanced Placement African American Studies course will begin next year, according to a Wednesday announcement from the College Board, which is in charge of administering standardized examinations and providing information for college admissions.

The AP African American Studies course has not been an official AP course for the previous two years, but rather a pilot program.

The Arkansas Department of Education faced accusations of racism back in August after deciding to only grant elective credit to students for the course.

The department encourages the teaching of all American history and supports rigorous courses not based on opinions of indoctrination,” an ADE spokesperson said in a statement after the decision was made public.

When questioned on Wednesday if they intended to consider the course to make it an official AP course for students, the state education administration stated:

We are focused right now on finishing the first semester of this school year,” the ADE spokesperson said in an email. “We don’t have anything new to report about the pilot at this time.

Greg Walker, senior vice president of College Board’s state and district partnerships, stated that he has been in contact with Arkansas’s education authorities.

“We have provided them with resources from our pilot two program and they have been able to review all of those,” Walker said. “We want to ensure that all students in the state of Arkansas have the opportunity to take as many challenging courses as they want.”

Walker said the new framework of the course is something he thinks the ADE would accept and emphasized there’s “no indoctrination in advanced placement.”

Walker pointed out that in addition to citing sources and developing an opinion based on them, students working on projects also need to present an opposing viewpoint.

We’re not having any student take a teacher’s point of view – they get no credit for that, [or] to take their mother’s or father’s or friend’s [point of view] or something that they read or saw,” Walker said. “They have to use evidence and facts to support their argument.”

The new framework was developed with feedback from instructors, researchers, and students in the subject of African American studies, according to Brandi Waters, senior director and program manager of AP African American Studies at College Board.

“The course leverages disciplines such as history, art, history, science, law, and geography, and brings them together, this course gives students an opportunity to examine rich and varied primary sources,” Waters said. “Throughout the course of a year, they’re looking at African American art, archival documents, graphs, and charts. And this really gives them an opportunity to build a large skill set and analyzing primary sources.”

According to the College Board, the revisions to the December 2023 framework focused on five objectives:

1. Make sure the course content matches what students will learn in college and earn credit for.
2. Cover the important topics in the subject while allowing students and teachers to choose additional topics to explore.
3. Listen to feedback from students and teachers to make the course more understandable and relevant.
4. Provide a variety of sources for students to learn from, including different perspectives and types of sources.
5. Make the writing in the course clearer and more precise.


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