After College Board, the educational monopoly that oversees college prep, SAT and PSAT testing, and AP courses for high schoolers, submitted its experimental Advanced Placement course on African-American Studies to state leaders, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis rejected the curriculum for use in public schools in the Sunshine State last week. DeSantis called the curriculum a violation of state law due to its reliance on critical race theory. As my colleague Joy Pullmann has argued in these pages, every conservative state leader should do the same.
The apparent critical race theory course masquerading as AP African-American Studies isn’t College Board’s only foray into politics. Pullmann noted that its other history courses, including European, United States, and World History, have been “infused with identity politics and anti-American and anti-Western readings of history,” according to a report published by the National Association of Scholars. College Board has also launched a feature toying with its SAT test metrics to reflect students’ “privilege,” slapping an “adversity score” onto student test results to reflect factors such as income and neighborhood crime.
College Board has a monopoly on AP exams (in addition to the SAT, perhaps the most commonly administered college entrance exam ). So where does that leave high school students and their parents, who want access to the potential college credit that AP courses provide but don’t want to sign up for the left-leaning propaganda that worms its way into College Board materials?
Most colleges require at least a score of 3 or higher (out of a possible 5) on College Board’s AP exams in order for a student to receive college credit for the course, so taking the official test is likely unavoidable for students seeking to count their AP classes on college transcripts. But there are alternative curricula that prepare students effectively for AP exams without the left-wing propaganda that most public high schools (armed with guidelines from College Board) will slip in.
When I was in high school, I took AP European History, AP U.S. History, and AP English Language and Composition through the Home School Legal Defense Association’s (HSLDA) Online Academy. Not only did those courses equip me to score 4s and 5s and receive college credit for all three (at my college, equivalent to four semester-long courses), but I also received an education that acknowledged the contributions of Western civilization and the debt that history owes to Christianity.
Both history courses were overseen by professors with history doctorates, and contained material they had assembled, with classroom teachers to lead student sessions. Primary source documents made up a sizeable part of each week’s assigned materials.
In European History, we read greats such as Martin Luther and Galileo and Newton and Pascal and Burke, while also analyzing the works of controversial “progressive” figures such as Malthus and Marx and Lenin and Darwin from a classical Christian perspective. Our source materials included Beethoven’s music and Lord Byron’s poetry and Renaissance paintings. We wrote essays about things like the intersection of the Enlightenment and natural law, while getting specific practice in the style of writing prompt to expect on the AP exam.
In U.S. History, we discussed writings from the Puritans, Jonathan Edwards, John Locke, the Founding Fathers, Lewis and Clark, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Calvin Coolidge, and Phyllis Schlafly, just to name a few — alongside writings and speeches from figures such as Margaret Sanger, Franklin Roosevelt, and Betty Friedan. We wrote essays based on sample AP exam prompts, and also responded to prompts about things like the role of religion in the early American republic.
I found the courses more than prepared me for College Board’s exams, and so have many other students. According to the U.S. History syllabus, for example, “On the 2016 AP History exam, 91.6 percent of all HSLDA Online Academy students who completed this course earned a score of 3, 4, or 5,” compared to 52.1 percent nationwide.
HSLDA’s AP offerings currently include English Language and Composition, English Literature and Composition, Calculus AB, U.S. Government and Politics, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, U.S. History, European History, and Modern World History. You can explore the course catalog here, along with numerous other non-AP high school courses.