Diploma Program Focuses on Inquiry, Research, and Writing Skills Crucial for College and Career Success
Central Academy and Roosevelt High School will join approximately 1,000 schools worldwide to implement AP Capstone, an innovative diploma program that allows students to develop the skills that matter most for college success: research, collaboration, and communication. Central Academy and Roosevelt will be the first two high schools in the metro area to offer this opportunity for students.
The AP Capstone 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.
Both Central Academy and Roosevelt will start offering the AP Seminar in the fall of 2017.
Central Academy, located at 1912 Grand Avenue, is a magnet school that has been regularly recognized as one of the top providers of Advanced Placement courses in the state and nation. Roosevelt, located at 4419 Center Street and attended by more than 1,900 students in grades 9-12, is ranked #2 in the state by the University of Iowa’s Belin-Blank Center for making AP courses available to students.
“Over the past few years Academy students have been pushing the boundary to include philosophical, political, historical, literary, and economic topics through our extended learning opportunities,” said Jessica Gogerty, director of Central Academy. “However, only a handful of students get those opportunities each year. AP Capstone would allow us to expand offerings beyond just G/T identified students. Any student in the Des Moines area who has developed an interest as a result of AP course work would be encouraged to join the Capstone program at Central Academy. Learning these complex and creative thinking skills could spark an interest in research that could last a lifetime and perhaps sustain first-generation college students as they undertake the transition into college.”
“The entire Roosevelt community should be proud knowing that their school has been selected to offer the AP Capstone program next school year at TRHS,” added Roosevelt High School principal Kevin Biggs. “Roosevelt has always exhibited a long and distinguished history of academic excellence and high success rate on AP exams. Having the opportunity to provide these relevant, interdisciplinary courses to our students should only expand those experiences and will certainly prepare them well for whatever post-secondary dreams they might have.”
The participation of Central Academy and Roosevelt in AP Capstone is one more example of the significant effort by DMPS over the past few years to expand and improve Advanced Placement course offerings at all five comprehensive high schools. Enrollment in AP courses has more than quadrupled and the number of AP exams taken by DMPS students has increased two-and-a-half times over the past five years. For the past four years, all five DMPS comprehensive high schools have been listed on the University of Iowa’s AP Index as among the top providers of Advanced Placement courses in the state.
The AP Seminar course, typically taken in 10th or 11th grade, equips students with the ability to look at 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. Education, innovation, sustainability, and technology are examples of themes or topics covered in AP Seminar. However, teachers have the flexibility to choose subject content based on student interests, whether local, regional, national, or global. By tapping into students’ personal interests, AP Capstone gives students from a wide range of backgrounds an entry point into stimulating coursework more than ever before. Students are assessed through: a team project and presentation, an individual project and presentation, and an end-of-course written exam.
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.
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.)
“We are proud to offer AP Capstone, which enables students and teachers to focus on topics of their choice in great depth,” said Trevor Packer, senior vice president for AP and instruction at the College Board. He adds, “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.”
By responding to and partnering 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. Because the program is a result of feedback from education professionals, it is not surprising that several colleges and universities have confirmed their support for the program.
About the Advanced Placement Program
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. Through AP courses in 34 subjects, each culminating in a rigorous exam, students learn to think critically, construct solid arguments, and see many sides of an issue—skills that prepare them for college and beyond. Taking AP courses demonstrates to college admission officers that students have sought the most rigorous curriculum available to them, and research indicates that students who score a 3 or higher on an AP Exam typically experience greater academic success in college and are more likely to earn a college degree than non-AP students. Each AP teacher’s syllabus is evaluated and approved by faculty from some of the nation’s leading colleges and universities, and AP Exams are developed and scored by college faculty and experienced AP teachers. Most four-year colleges and universities in the United States grant credit, advanced placement, or both on the basis of successful AP Exam scores — more than 3,800 institutions worldwide annually receive AP scores. In the last decade AP participation and performance rates have nearly doubled. In May 2016, 2.6 million students representing more than 21,000 schools around the world, both public and nonpublic, took over 4.7 million AP Exams.