Science Hill set to offer AP Capstone Diploma Program

Starting next school year, Science Hill High School will become one of approximately 1,500 schools worldwide – and 17 in Tennessee – to implement the Advanced Placement (AP) Capstone diploma program.

The AP Capstone is a College Board program that equips students with the independent research, collaborative teamwork and communication skills that are increasingly valued by colleges. It cultivates curious, independent and collaborative scholars and prepares them to make logical, evidence-based decisions. This is an optional diploma or certificate for interested AP Students.

“The Board of Education prioritized having a well-respected, rigorous diploma option for our students at Science Hill High School for those students who wish to concentrate in varying areas of academic content while in high school,” Johnson City School’s Supervisor of Secondary and Instructional Technology Dr. David Timbs said. “The AP Capstone Diploma offered by the College Board appears to be a great fit for us because it complements our already strong AP program and allows us to build out our AP offerings to expand student choice beginning in the 2018-19 school year.”

Currently there are 14 AP Classes offered at Science Hill with plans of adding six more classes in 2018-2019, three more classes in 2019-2020 and four more classes in 2020-2021, for 27 AP classes for Science Hill students to choose. While students in many districts pay for their AP Exams, an action taken by the Johnson City Board of Education before the 2016-2017 school year, allows the BOE to cover any fees for students that take AP tests.

Studies show that students who take AP courses and exams in high school are much more likely to graduate from college in four years instead of five. Adding the AP Capstone diploma program will allow even more options for students at Science Hill, according to Principal Todd Barnett.

“Science Hill is honored to have been selected to implement the AP Capstone Diploma Program in 2018. By offering this program to our current AP students as well as students who are considering AP for the first time, we will provide an opportunity for a broad and diverse student population to deeply develop skills for college and beyond,” Barnett said. “In Capstone courses, our teachers have more leeway with curriculum choices so their students can access more challenging coursework by tapping into personal interests while strengthening their reading and writing skills.”

Students who earn scores of three 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 three 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.

The AP Seminar course, typically taken in 11th grade, equips students with the ability to look at academic or 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. Teachers have flexibility to cover local, regional, national, and global topics relevant to their students, around themes such as education, innovation, sustainability, and technology. Students are assessed through a team project and presentation, an individual project and presentation, and an end-of-course written exam. By tapping into students’ personal interests, AP Capstone gives students from a wide range of backgrounds an entry point into stimulating coursework.

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.

For more information about the program, contact the Science Hill Counselors at 423-232-2190. A brochure will also be available for students or parents that are interested in the program.