Diploma Program Focuses on Inquiry, Research, and Writing Skills Crucial for College and Career Success

Veterans Memorial High School (VMHS) is one of 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. The 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. 

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™. 

VMHS will start AP Seminar in the fall of 2017. 

“Implementing this program is part of our commitment to preparing students for college, career, and life,” said Dr. Ricardo Lopez, superintendent. “The rigorous curriculum challenges our students to think at a higher level and we know that will help them excel in all they do.”

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. 

Mission High School and Mission Collegiate High School implemented the program this school year.