Story at a glance

  • The College Board organization has launched a new curriculum about the history of the African diaspora.
  • The new course will be available as an Advanced Placement (AP) class.

The College Board has proposed a new educational curriculum within Advanced Placement (AP) classes to cover U.S. history, including issues of slavery and police brutality.

The Washington Post reports that the College Board will be developing a course solely focused on the African diaspora, following a three-year pilot program that introduced a comparable course in 11 public schools. The demographics across each school varied from more diverse student bodies in New York, Atlanta and Miami to majority-white schools in areas like Huntsville, Ala.

Ernest Morrell, a professor of Africana studies at the University of Notre Dame, expressed support for the new learning initiative, especially against the backdrop of Black Lives Matter protests that have swept through the nation over the summer. 


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“I think there is going to be a convergence between the work we are doing and the larger universe demanding some form of racial justice,” Morrell told The Post.

The curriculum is slated to study people of African descent who were subjected to slave trades and other historic events that shaped modern African American culture.

The course will implement a cross-disciplinary methodology, with references to significant artistic or cultural achievements, such as the hit movie “Black Panther.”

The subject course will fold into the College Board’s Capstone program, a yearlong research course.

The structure of the curriculum is flexible, with the College Board giving high-school educators the option to customize how they will teach the subject.

“There’s personal freedom to take it in different directions,” said high school teacher Michael Grubb, who teaches in Norman, Okla., where the pilot course was deployed. “The issues that are salient for New York City may be different than for us here in Norman.”

Beyond the learning material, the course was also developed to benefit Black student outcomes following high school graduation. 

Kassie Freeman, the president of the nonprofit African Diaspora Consortium — which collaborated on the curriculum along with Columbia University’s Teachers College — anticipates that the course offering will be adopted nationally very soon and help Black students perform better on AP exams. 

Based on 2019 data, Black students earned a passing score on 32 percent of their AP exams, whereas Latino students passed 44 percent, white students passed 65 percent and Asian students passed 72 percent. 


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Published on Sep 08, 2020