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Seminole, Marion County Schools offer AP Psychology alternatives for Central Florida students

A student writes an essay on loose leaf paper.
The College Board announced Thursday the state department of education had banned AP Psychology.

Central Florida school districts are coming up with creative waysto work around an effective ban on AP Psychology in Florida, and still teach students psychology.

The College Board announced Thursday the state department of education had banned the course.

Anticipating a possible ban, Seminole County School leaders had been working behind the scenes on an alternative for students.

Juniors and Seniors enrolled in the course can now take an AP Seminar in Psychology.

The district’s Katherine Crnkovich said the course does not cover topics like gender identity and sexuality, which prompted the ban, but provides the same academic rigor.

“It really makes them focus on research at a collegiate level and they're able to work with collaboration, critical thinking," said Crnkovich. "And then what students do is they analyze a topic area of interest. So they'll have to give oral arguments, things like that."

Kids taking AP Seminar can also get college credit.

"They can still study psychology, but it will not be AP Psychology. But they can still pursue learning about general psychology concepts through this course, and they're still able to potentially earn that college credit through the AP Seminar exam," said Crnkovich.

Marion County Schools said the 300 students enrolled in its AP Psych class will also get to take an alternative college-level psychology class for college credit.

Other districts like Orange County, which has some 2,400 students enrolled, said they’re working to identify alternative courses. Brevard County Schools said each of their high schools is identifying options for their students and instructors, including, "other AP courses or a college-level Psychology course offered through the International Baccalaureate program, or the AICE program (Cambridge)."

The AP College Board said it will not alter the course to fit Florida's expanded Parental Rights in Education, or Don't Say Gay law, that bans discussions of gender identity and sexuality in grades K-12.

The committee that developed the course has put out the following statement in support of teaching about gender identity and sexuality in high school psychology courses:

"As a committee, we affirm that gender and sexual orientation are essential, longstanding, and foundational topics in the study of psychology. College-level introductory psychology students will encounter gender and sexual orientation as topics of study. Psychology graduates go on to pursue a range of careers and must be able to successfully navigate professional environments that will require familiarity with these concepts. To best prepare these students for college placement and careers in psychology, the topic on gender and sexual orientation will continue to be required in AP Psychology."

28,000 kids took AP Psych last school year in Florida.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.
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