By Kevin Kelley
Fairview High School will offer the AP Capstone diploma program starting with the 2017-2018 school year.
AP Capstone was developed by College Board, which also runs the SAT college admissions test and offers advanced placement courses for which students can also receive college credit. According to the College Board website, the program encourages students to evaluate multiple points of view on complex issues and develop personal perspectives through inquiry and investigation.
The program consists of two courses: AP Seminar and AP Research. 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. Students who earn 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.
AP Seminar, typically taken in 10th or 11th grade, is a yearlong course in which students develop analytic and inquiry skills, exploring two to four relevant issues chosen by the student and teacher.
AP Research allows students to design, plan and conduct a yearlong research-based investigation on a topic of individual interest, documenting their process with a portfolio.
Freshman and sophomores at Fairview High School in the 2017-2018 school year will have the opportunity to sign up for the program.
Melanie Wightman, Fairview Park City Schools director of teaching and learning, said the district expects 25 to 30 students in each grade to sign up for AP Capstone. Each grade level has about 130 to 140 students.
“It’s a commitment to rigorous studies,” Wightman said of AP Capstone.
According to the College Board website, AP Capstone was developed in response to feedback from higher education, and was designed to provide students with skills valued by colleges, such as independent research and collaborative teamwork.
In terms of being an accomplishment a student can put on his or her application to a competitive university, AP Capstone competes with the more established International Baccalaureate program.
Shortly after joining the district in 2014, Superintendent Bill Wagner said the district was considering the International Baccalaureate program. District leaders attended IB information sessions and toured area IB-participating schools. Wagner said the district ultimately decided the district could accomplish the same goals with an expanded AP program and the district’s “Fairview Advantage” framework for student success.
“AP is in Fairview’s DNA,” Wightman explained, adding that the high school offers many AP courses.