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NDHS to Offer AP Capstone Diploma Program

Diploma Program Focuses on College-Level Research, Collaboration, and Presentation Skills Crucial for College and Career Success 
Sherman Oaks, CA— NDHS is one of approximately 1,800 schools worldwide to implement the AP Capstone Diploma program―an innovative program that allows students to develop the 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. 

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
NDHS will start offering AP Seminar in the fall of 2020. 
In AP Seminar, typically taken in 10th or 11th grade, students choose and evaluate complex topics through multiple lenses; identify credibility and bias in sources; and develop arguments in support of a recommendation. AP Seminar is a project-based learning course. Official AP Seminar assessments include research reports, written arguments, and presentations completed during the academic year. Students complete the course by taking an end-of-course written exam in May. 
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. There’s no end-of-course exam for AP Research.

“We’re 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.” 

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

“We’re 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.”

About NDHS 
Notre Dame High School bases its mission on a number of values, including the intellectual, one which incorporates a curriculum that "prepares students for college and post-secondary pursuits and which fully develops students' skills for communication and critical thinking," as well as the personal, one which "molds students who value themselves and others,...who have a strong aesthetic sense, and who exhibit self-discipline and a cooperative spirit." Both of these principles will find fruition in the AP Capstone program.  The program's launch could not be timelier: a recent AP English Language assignment tasked students with composing an editorial for the school newspaper, proposing a change for high school education.  Of the 120 total essays, nearly 25% suggested a move away from a traditional lecture format to individual and collaborative projects based on students' interests and goals.  A number also expressed interest in pursuing research beyond the limits of the usual college-prep classroom. These essays highlight the necessity to meet the needs of all students beyond an occasional project or a few minutes of group work. Our present AP English instructor, Kate Nelson, is committed to the objectives of AP Seminar, viewing the course as one which can draw students from a range of interests, investigating fields sometimes marginalized in a college-prep curriculum.  Once these students have established a foundation in analyzing, writing, and presenting evidence-based arguments, they would go on to work with a pair of instructors for AP Research, ideally one from the humanities and on from STEAM, who would guide them as they conduct their research. Notre Dame High School is eager to support students as they move beyond passively receiving knowledge to passionately exploring their world, ideally through the AP Capstone program.
About AP
The College Board Advanced Placement® Program (AP®) enables willing and academically prepared students to pursue college-level studies—with the opportunity to earn college credit, placement, or both—while still in high school. Through AP courses in 38 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 admissions 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, placement, or both based on 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 2018, 2.8 million students representing more than 22,612 schools around the world, both public and nonpublic, took 5.1 million AP Exams. 

About College Board 
College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, College Board was created to expand access to higher education. Today, the membership association is made up of over 6,000 of the world’s leading educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education. Each year, College Board helps more than seven million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success—including the SAT® and the Advanced Placement® Program. The organization also serves the education community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators, and schools. For further information, visit collegeboard.org
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