Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

MercyShieldText SpotReflexBlueUMercy High School in Middletown will be one of approximately 1,500 schools worldwide to implement the AP (Advanced Placement) Capstone diploma program in the fall.

The program is an innovative initiative that allows students to develop skills that matter most for college success, 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 complements 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.

“This innovative program gets a broader, more diverse student population ready for college and beyond. 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,” according to Sister of Mercy Mary McCarthy, president of Mercy High School.

The AP Seminar course, typically taken in 10th or 11th grade, equips students with the ability to 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 tackle complex questions; understand and evaluate opposing viewpoints; interpret and synthesize information; and construct, communicate, and defend evidence-based arguments. Teachers have flexibility to cover local, regional, national and global topics relevant to their students 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 tapping into students’ personal interests, AP Capstone gives students from a wide range of backgrounds an entry point into stimulating coursework.

In the subsequent AP Research course, students design, plan and conduct a year-long 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.

In partnership with the higher education community, the College Board 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.