AP What-stone?

AP What-stone?

Donovan Brooks, Staff Writer

In the wake of pre-registration week for the 2017-2018 year, students have been hearing the word “AP” drilled into their heads on a daily basis. It usually comes with a simple explanation of a class that is available to take; however, this is not so with the newest addition to A-TECH’s course catalog: AP Capstone.

The reason for AP Capstone’s mysteriousness is the fact that it has only been officially available for one year. It was piloted in a few select schools throughout the US from 2013-2016, but this year was the first year that it was available for any school to apply. On a handout given during AP Night, College Board described the course as “the pinnacle of the high school experience” and “an innovative and engaging college-level program for high school students that compliments and enhances discipline-specific AP courses” and claims to “[transform] students into curious, collaborative, and independent thinkers with skills that are valued and sought after”. It is a two-year program that is composed of the courses AP Seminar and AP Research. AP Seminar is a prerequisite for AP Research, so only AP Seminar will be available next year.

Students who score a 3 or more on both exams, as well as on four other AP exams, will graduate with an AP Capstone diploma in addition to their normal diploma. Due to the young age of the program, the benefits of this diploma are not yet known. Aside from the diploma, the benefits of the program are the skills to conduct college-level research and argumentation. The classes are also  designed to be based around student interest. Students will be focusing on topics that are personally important to them.

“The skills that students would learn through the entire Capstone process are going to be skills that would transfer over to the college setting,” says Mrs. Vallari, who will be teaching AP Seminar next year, “they would benefit students in making the transition from high school to a college or university, regardless of what the score is or completing the other classes for the extra diploma.”

Those who have chosen to take AP Seminar next year will be required to complete a team project, an individual paper and presentation, and a written end-of-course exam. These will all factor into the final AP Exam score. In the team project, groups of 3-5 students will identify a problem and create a solution. The individual paper will require students to analyze material provided by College Board. They will then “develop a logical, well-reasoned argument of 2,000 words”, and create a 6-8 minute presentation of the argument.

In the AP Research class, students will dedicate the whole year to writing a 5,000-word thesis on a question they have generated themselves. The thesis can  be on any topic  of their choice, and in any field of study. They must also prepare a video presentation of their thesis, as well as a video-taped oral defense. Mrs. Vallari says that she will have more information about the classes when she goes to the AP Capstone teacher training over the summer.

“They take us through looking at some student portfolios, submissions and written tests, and giving us guidelines on how those things are scored, so it’s not a secret,” says Vallari.

Until this information is revealed, students should decide whether they want to take AP Capstone based on the skills that will be learned during the course.