New AP Class Being Launched: AP African American Studies

Elizabeth Wu, Staff Writer

This 2022-23 school year, the College Board launched a new AP African American Studies course, eight years after the last time a new AP class launched in 2014. After more than a decade in the making, it is now the 40th AP course created. It focuses on the history, culture, economics and politics of North American people of African descent, starting from the slave economy until the modern day.

According to Trevor Packer, the head of the Advanced Placement (AP) Program, the College Board decided to launch the new class after the death of George Floyd and surrounding protests. 

“AP African American Studies will introduce a new generation of students to the amazingly rich cultural, artistic and political contributions of African Americans,” Packer said. “We hope it will broaden the invitation to Advanced Placement and inspire students with a fuller appreciation of the American story.”

“I like that [the College Board] is adding new classes because it adds to the diversity of learning [since it] allows students to choose classes that have subjects that they are interested in,” junior Anika Dizon said. “I hope in the future the College Board and schools, in general, will allow students to study what they are passionate about and find new interests that will help them in college.”

To succeed in this course, students are expected to understand intersectionality or a way of looking at discrimination through overlapping racial and gender ideas. This class also digs deeper into the works of Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party and other prominent black figures throughout history.

Students at UHS have shown interest in taking more AP classes if they were offered at our school. 

“I have a peculiar interest in [the] College Board adding new AP classes, as I feel as though this may enrich my learning experience,” sophomore Ryan Huang said. “I would be interested in taking more APs if new classes were added.”

However, as this is the first school year offering AP African American Studies, UHS has not yet piloted this course. Sixty schools across the country have added this class to their curriculums and according to College Board’s course development timeline, the pilot will expand to hundreds of additional high schools in the 2023-24 school year. As of this year, students will not be able to earn college credit for taking this course, but starting next school year, this course may be taken for college credit. All schools can start offering this course in the 2024-25 school year, and the first AP African American Studies Exams will be administered in Spring of 2025. 

Currently, Ethnic Studies and The American Experience are available as semester courses at UHS but the school administration is open to adding AP African American studies as an option.

“At UHS we are happy to offer any class that students are interested in taking as long as there is a staff member willing to teach it and enough students to run the course,” College and Career Counselor Felicia Ng said. “Students can request new classes during the annual December course interest survey.”