After Outcry, College Board Restores 250 Years to Proposed AP History Course

By Brenda Iasevoli — July 19, 2018 2 min read
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Starting in the 2019-2020 school year, the Advanced Placement World History course will begin instruction with the year 1200, and not 1450 as the College Board had originally planned.

The College Board faced backlash in June when it announced that it would begin AP World History content at the year 1450, when European power began to expand. That change would have eliminated content on pre-colonial Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Middle East—nearly 10,000 years of human history. The College Board said cutting earlier years would make the content more manageable for teachers who said they were “teaching too little about too much.”

A petition by the civil rights advocacy group Color of Change protesting the plan garnered 30,000 signatures. As an overseer of history content that reaches millons of students nationwide, the petition argued, the College Board plays a powerful role in setting curriculum content standards in high schools.

“With this power, the College Board has the responsibility to ensure that students everywhere are exposed to histories beyond that of colonial Europeans and understand that the histories of black and brown people did not start when European colonists arrived in their lands,” the petition reads.

Rashad Robinson, the president of Color of Change, counts the petition as a factor in the College Board’s decision to restore some of the early content to the course, as it started a conversation between the two groups on the importance of students of color seeing themselves represented in history. In a statement, Robinson said that Color of Change would continue to work with the College Board to “provide students with a multifaceted, accurate, and diverse historical perspective.”

Many, including Color of Change, are pleased with the addition of the early years into the AP World History course. “The College Board found a balanced solution that honors the principled feedback from members of the world history community,” said Rick Warner, a world history professor at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., and former president of the World History Association. “With this solution, students will have an opportunity to learn world history at a scope and pace similar to what’s taught in college. This solution also allows high schools to approach this vast subject in a time frame that is most appropriate for their own students.”

In addition to the AP World History: Modern course, the College Board announced it plans to offer AP World History: Ancient, for “schools and students interested in AP coursework that covers the full sweep of world history.” But the group said it would first have to make sure colleges would award credit for the two courses and that high schools would be willing to offer both courses.

“We believe this new approach will best serve students and educators, balance course breadth and depth, and honor the full, essential story of human history,” the College Board wrote in a statement.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.