Lake Washington High School (LWHS) is one of approximately 1,500 schools worldwide to implement the AP Capstone™ diploma program―a program that allows students to develop skills widely used in college, such as research, collaboration, and communication.
The program consists of two courses taken in sequence: AP Seminar and AP Research. Developed in direct response to feedback from higher education faculty and college admission officers, AP Capstone aims to complement the in-depth, subject-specific study of other Advanced Placement courses and exams.
Students who earn scores of 3 or higher on AP Seminar and AP Research assessments and on four additional AP Exams of their choosing will earn the AP Capstone Diploma. This signifies their outstanding academic achievement and attainment of college-level academic and research skills. Students who earn scores of 3 or higher on both AP Seminar and AP Research assessments only (but not on four additional AP Exams) will earn the AP Seminar and Research Certificate.
LWHS will start AP Seminar in the fall of 2018.
“This innovative program gets a broader, more diverse student population ready for college and beyond,” LWHS Principal Christina Thomas said in a press release. “The program gives our teachers more leeway with curriculum choices so their students can access more challenging coursework and sharpen their reading and writing skills.”
The AP Seminar course, typically taken in 10th or 11th grade, seeks to help students look at academic or real-world issues from multiple perspectives. Through a variety of materials— articles to research studies to foundational and philosophical texts – students are aided in tackling complex questions; understanding and evaluating opposing viewpoints; interpreting and synthesizing information; and constructing, communicating and defending evidence-based arguments.
Teachers cover local, regional, national and global topics, around themes such as education, innovation, sustainability, and technology. Students are assessed through a team project and presentation, an individual project and presentation and an end-of-course written exam.
By looking into students’ personal interests, AP Capstone hopes to give students an entry point into stimulating coursework.
In the subsequent AP Research course, students design, plan and conduct a yearlong research-based investigation on a topic of individual interest, documenting their process with a portfolio. Students build on skills developed in the AP Seminar course by learning how to understand research methodology; employ ethical research practices; and collect, analyze, and synthesize information to build, present, and defend an argument.
“We’re proud to offer AP Capstone, which enables students and teachers to focus on topics of their choice in great depth,” Trevor Packer, senior vice president for AP and Instruction at the College Board, said in a press release.
“This provides terrific opportunities for students to develop the ability to write and present their work effectively, individually, and in groups—the very skills college professors want their students to possess,” he added.
In partnership with the higher education community, the College Board said they developed AP Capstone so students can practice skills that will serve them well in college and career. Colleges and universities have voiced their support of the program.
“AP Capstone is a unique program that teaches skills we think are very valuable not only for college but life,” John Barnhill, assistant vice president for enrollment management at Florida State University, said in a press release. “The ability to analyze, to critically think, and to present information is really wonderful, and I think both courses do a great job of preparing the student for the rest of their lives.”