Students in Florida may be permitted to take Advanced Placement Psychology in the coming school year, officials said on Friday, a day after the College Board had revoked its support for the course in Florida, asserting that it had been “effectively banned” by the state’s Department of Education.
A.P. Psychology, one of the most popular Advanced Placement courses across the country, has been the subject of the latest tug of war between the College Board, an influential nonprofit organization that oversees Advanced Placement courses and the SAT, and the state of Florida. The two sides have been at odds since Florida rejected a new A.P. class on African American studies earlier this year, part of a campaign by Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican presidential contender, to fight “woke” education in public schools.
The latest tussle came over a section in the A.P. Psychology course that addresses gender and sexual orientation.
A day after sparring in public statements about the fate of the class, both the Florida Department of Education and the College Board released statements on Friday suggesting that the course could continue to be taught in Florida, including the section on gender and sexual orientation, though many questions remained.
A.P. classes are one of the most popular options for advanced, college-level courses, offered in thousands of high schools around the country. The classes look good on college applications, and students can also get college credit in some cases with a high score on an end-of-year A.P. exam.
More than 28,000 students in Florida took A.P. Psychology last year.
But under a new Florida rule, instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation is now restricted through 12th grade, putting the A.P. Psychology course in the spotlight.
Florida officials had recently asked the College Board to offer assurances that material in its A.P. Psychology curriculum would not violate state laws or rules.
The College Board declined, saying it would not “censor” college-level standards.
The section in question comes as part of a unit on developmental psychology, which includes themes on “moral development” as well as on gender and sexual orientation. A section on gender and sexual orientation has been a part of the course since it was introduced 30 years ago, the College Board said, and the American Psychological Association has said that the teaching of gender identity and sexual orientation is a necessary part of studying human development at the college level.
The College Board announced on Thursday that school districts in Florida should no longer offer the course if it could not be offered in its entirety.
Its decision came in response to a private call between Florida officials and school district superintendents on Thursday. The College Board, which was not part of the call, said that the Florida Department of Education had “effectively banned” the course by instructing districts to leave out the content on gender and sexual orientation.
The Florida Department of Education denied that the course had been banned and accused the College Board of “playing games with Florida students.”
By Friday, though, the sides appeared to have ended their standoff, at least for now.
In a letter to school district superintendents, Florida’s education commissioner, Manny Diaz Jr., wrote that the state believed the A.P. Psychology course could be taught “in its entirety” in an age-appropriate way. Still, it was uncertain exactly how school districts intended to proceed or whether any adjustments would be expected to comply with the state’s rule.
The College Board issued a new statement, reversing its earlier finding that school districts should not offer the course.
“We hope now that Florida teachers will be able to teach the full course, including content on gender and sexual orientation, without fear of punishment in the upcoming school year,” the College Board said in a statement late Friday.