Diverse Options: Clayton High School Pilots New AP African American Studies Course

College Board has developed a comprehensive course on African American studies that stretches from the pre-slavery era to present day. Clayton High School was chosen to pilot the course for the 2022-2023 school year.

In the United States, African Americans make up 15% of the total student population, and yet their representation in AP and dual enrollment classes still remains low. Nationwide, 6% of all high school students were enrolled in AP classes in the 2017-2018 school year, with only 3.7% of all Black students enrolled compared with 12.9% of Asian American students and 6.6% of white students.
College Board, the nonprofit organization that administers the SAT and provides college-level courses to millions of students, is officially expanding their AP offerings. Starting next school year, high schools across the country will pilot a new AP African American studies course that will cover topics such as the African Diaspora, slavery, the Abolitionist Movement, and the intersections between race, gender, and class as they relate to Black communities. While under-representation of minorities is a pervasive problem across the U.S., one aim of the course is to encourage diverse participation and prepare a greater number of disadvantaged students for college-level coursework.
The course was first piloted for several years to collect data and check for feasibility. In addition, the organization has worked closely with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) to ensure that potential students would gain a thorough understanding of the depth and nuance of Black history. Clayton High School was chosen as one of the schools to participate in the next pilot round.
According to La Shauna Aningo, Clayton High School U.S. and World History teacher, “College Board identified schools throughout the U.S. that were already providing courses on African American studies, and Dr. Gutchewsky was contacted with a request for Clayton to participate in the pilot, and then that information was forwarded to other administrators.”
In addition to providing students a more in-depth understanding of the myriad artistic, scientific, and political achievements of African Americans, many of which have historically been ignored or devalued, Aningo believes the course represents a step in the right direction for promoting general education and awareness.
“As far as I am aware, students are not taught about African history before the transatlantic slave trade. This could be addressed so that students learn about the existence of African civilizations before they learn about imperialism, which would create a different narrative.” Instead of learning about African Americans just in terms of the oppression and violence they have endured for centuries, students will also have the opportunity to learn about the life and culture of African peoples before European interference.
The long-overdue inclusion of a college-level African American studies course in high schools across the country has been received with applause, especially in the light of the 2020 George Floyd protests and the heated controversy surrounding critical race theory.

As far as I am aware, students are not taught about African history before the transatlantic slave trade. This could be addressed so that students learn about the existence of African civilizations before they learn about imperialism, which would create a different narrative.”

— La Shauna Aningo


The inclusion of diverse perspectives in education is imperative for the preservation of democracy. However, ignorance and racism remain potent forces in American society, and while significant progress still needs to be made in the development of history curricula, change will not happen overnight.
“Teachers have to gain more education, because the assumption is that people have been educated through a diverse lens and the reality is that a lot of people did not grow up learning through a diverse lens. I believe an honest and factual approach is the best way to teach the course regardless of recent events. Teachers are teaching history and the way they do so will vary, but using documents, discussion, and including the voices of those that lived through the history is essential,” says Aningo.