McNick to offer two new AP courses, implement AP Capstone Diploma

Beginning in the 2020-2021 school year, McNick will offer a new Advanced Placement course: AP Seminar.  According to College Board, AP Seminar will help students to “develop and practice the skills in research, collaboration, and communication that you’ll need in any academic discipline” by teaching skills such as analyzing articles and studies, “viewing an issue from multiple angles,” and “crafting arguments based on evidence.”

Following in the 2021-2022 school year, students who have taken AP Seminar will then be able to take AP Research. Because no students have taken AP Seminar yet, AP Research will not be offered in the 2020-2021 school year. Students can take only AP Seminar if they wish; however, they cannot take AP Research without first taking AP Seminar.

In AP Research, students will use what they learned in AP Seminar to “design, plan, and conduct a year-long research based investigation to address a research question.”  Students will research, analyze their sources, write “a college-level academic paper,” and “present research findings to an audience,” according to College Board.

The classes will be offered as electives to be taken in addition to regular classes, but they will have the same workload as a typical AP class.  The classes will be taught by Director of Educational Technology Emily Materna and Latin Teacher Paul Romolo.

The new AP classes are designed to be student driven. “Since the material that the AP course is trying to relate isn’t subject specific, a lot of the exercises you can have some choice or some influence on what the content ends up being,” Romolo said.

AP Seminar and AP Research are both a part of a larger AP program called the AP Capstone Diploma Program.  To achieve the AP Capstone Diploma, students are required to receive a score of three or higher on the AP exam for both AP Seminar and AP Research, as well as four other AP exams.  If a student chooses not to take four other AP classes, or simply does not score a three or above on the exams, they are still able to receive the AP Capstone certificate as long as they have received a high enough score on the AP Seminar and AP Research exams.

Students who plan to take AP Seminar and AP Research during junior and senior year, respectively, who hope to achieve the AP Capstone Diploma will not receive it until the July after they take AP Research, since tests are not scored until June.  The award will be acknowledged on AP score reports sent to colleges following that, and students can be considered AP Capstone Diploma candidates until then as long as their score on the AP Seminar exam is above a three and they plan to take all the required courses.  They are also able to take the courses sophomore and junior year, and assuming they meet all the other requirements as well, they would be able to include that on college applications.

Corresponding college credits vary from university to university, but the courses are often counted as elective credits.  More importantly, the class provides skills to help prepare students for college.

“It will help you a lot with preparing you for college in general because you’ll be ahead of the game in learning a lot of the research and writing techniques that are used at the college level,” Materna said.

To see a student perspective on the AP Capstone program, you can watch this video on the College Board website.

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