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Pennridge High School to Offer AP Capstone Diploma Program

posted Jan 4, 2019, 12:07 PM by Joe Ferry   [ updated Jan 4, 2019, 12:09 PM ]
Focus Is On College-Level Research, Collaboration and Presentation Skills Crucial for College and Career Success 

AP Capstone Logo
Starting in the fall, Pennridge High School will join approximately 1,800 schools worldwide by implementing the AP Capstone Diploma Program, a rigorous academic approach that allows students to develop the research, collaboration and communications skills that matter most for college success. 

“This innovative program prepares a broader, more diverse student population for college and beyond," said Dr. Kathy Scheid, the district's director of curriculum, instruction and assessment. "It gives our teachers more leeway with curriculum choices, so their students can access more challenging coursework and sharpen their reading and writing skills.”

In Bucks County, only one other school district -- Quakertown -- are high school students offered the AP Capstone Program, which consists of two courses taken in sequence: AP Seminar and AP Research. 

In AP Seminar, typically taken by students in tenth or eleventh grade, students choose and evaluate complex topics through multiple lenses, identify credibility and bias in sources, and develop arguments in support of a recommendation. A project-based learning course. official AP Seminar assessments include research reports, written arguments, and presentations completed during the academic year.

In the subsequent AP Research course, students design, execute, present, and defend a yearlong research-based investigation on a topic of individual interest. They build on skills developed in AP Seminar by learning how to understand research methodology, employ ethical research practices, and collect, analyze, and synthesize information to contribute to academic research.

Like AP Seminar, AP Research is a project-based course. Each student’s official AP Research score is based on their academic paper, presentation, and oral defense.

Capstone logo
Students who score a 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research and on four additional AP Exams of their choosing earn the AP Capstone Diploma. This signifies outstanding academic achievement and attainment of college-level academic and research skills. Students who score a 3 or higher in both AP Seminar and AP Research (but not on four additional AP Exams) earn the AP Seminar and Research Certificate.

“Pennridge High School’s plans to offer the AP Capstone courses beginning with AP Seminar in the 2019 – 2020 academic year will enhance current programming by providing opportunities for students to deeply explore real-world problems with a legitimate purpose. These courses will also enable students to generate, practice, apply, and modify their research skills and abilities while working to make connections between multiple disciplines,” Dr. Dina Dormer, the district's secondary science supervisor.

Pennridge High School was among only 373 schools in North America (U.S. and Canada) honored by the College Board with placement on its 9th Annual AP District Honor Roll. To be included, the high school had to, since 2016, increase the number of students participating in Advanced Placement classes while also increasing or maintaining the percentage of students earning AP Exam scores of 3 or higher. 

In Pennsylvania, only 46 high schools earned the distinction. Closer to home, Pennridge was among four Bucks County School high schools to join the Honor Roll this year.

In May 2018, 355 PHS students, a 28 percent increase over the previous year, took a total of 645 AP exams in 21 subjects. 82 percent of those who took the test scored a 3 or higher. Their average score was 3.49 on a 5-point scale.

In addition to two National AP Scholars, the College Board awarded AP Scholar with Distinction status to 36 PHS students (average score of 4.16), AP Scholar with Honor status to 27 students (average score of 3.81) and AP Scholar status to 48 students (average score of 3.81).

Pennridge High School offers Advanced Placement courses in Biology, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Chemistry, Computer Science A, Computer Science Principles, English Language and Composition, English Literature and Composition, Environmental Science, European History, French Language and Culture, Government and Politics, Music Theory, Physics 1, Physics 2, Physics C, Psychology, Spanish Language and Culture, Statistics, Studio Art, United States History, and World History.

Trevor Packer, senior vice president for AP and Instruction at the College Board, said the AP Capstone program 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.” 

In partnership with the higher education community, the College Board developed AP Capstone so students can practice skills that serve them well in college and career. Colleges and universities have voiced their support for the program. 

“We are excited more schools are offering the AP Capstone Diploma program,” said Kedra Ishop, vice provost for enrollment management at the University of Michigan. “We believe the research, collaboration, and presentation skills taught in the two courses will be valuable to students throughout their academic and professional careers.”

Media Contact: Mr. Joe Ferry, Public Relations Coordinator for the Pennridge School District, 267-772-0740; The College Board, 212-713-8052 or