In February 2016, the Weehawken Township School District was selected by the College Board to implement AP Capstone — an innovative high school diploma program that allows students to develop the skills that matter most for their future college success: research, collaboration, and communication. The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program (AP) enables willing and academically prepared students to pursue college-level studies — with the opportunity to earn college credit, advanced placement, or both - while still in high school. AP Capstone complements the in-depth, subject-specific rigor of AP courses and exams. The AP Capstone Program includes a two-course sequence: AP Seminar and AP Research. Students who complete AP Seminar and AP Research with scores of 3 or higher, and receive scores of 3 or higher on four AP Exams in subjects of their choosing, will receive the AP Capstone Diploma.
The AP Seminar course, typically taken in 10th or 11th grade, will equip students with the power to explore academic and real-world issues from multiple perspectives. Through a variety of materials — from articles and research studies to foundational and philosophical texts — students will be challenged to explore complex questions; understand and evaluate opposing viewpoints; interpret and synthesize information; and develop, communicate, and defend evidence-based arguments. Teachers have the flexibility of choosing themes based on student interests, whether they are local, regional, national, or global in nature. Samples of themes that can be covered in the AP Seminar course include education, innovation, sustainability, and technology. By tapping into students’ personal interests, AP Capstone gives a broader array of students an entry point into challenging course work. Students are assessed through both an individual project and a team project completed during the year and a year-end written exam.
The subsequent AP Research course will allow students to design, plan, and conduct a yearlong investigation on a topic of their choosing with support from experts at the university level or in the community. Students will build on the skills learned in the AP Seminar course by using research methodology; employing ethical research practices; and accessing, analyzing, and synthesizing information to present an argument. At the end of the course students have the confidence to present and orally defend their own scholarly academic research.
The first class of AP Seminar students at Weehawken High School will start their journey through the AP Capstone Program in September 2016.