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Pioneer Charter School of Science II to participate in the College Board’s AP Capstone program

Diploma program focuses on inquiry, research and writing skills crucial for college/career success

Pioneer Charter School of Science II (PCSS II) 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™. (The top score on these exams is 5.)

PCSS II will start AP Seminar in the fall of 2017

PCSS II Executive Director Vahit Sevinc said: This innovative program gets a broader, more diverse student population ready for college and beyond. The program gives our teachers more leeway with curriculum choices so their students can access more challenging coursework and sharpen their reading and writing skills. As of today there are only 16 public and private schools in Massachusetts offering the AP Capstone program but no charter public schools. Pioneer Charter School of Science II will be the first and only charter public school in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to offer the AP Capstone program along with 10 other charter public schools nationwide.”

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.

“We are 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 added, “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.”

By responding to and partnering with the higher education community, the College Board developed AP Capstone so students can practice skills that will serve them well in college and career. Because the program is a result of feedback from education professionals, it is not surprising that several colleges and universities have confirmed their support for the program.

“AP Capstone is a unique program that teaches skills we think are very valuable not only for college but life,” said John Barnhill, assistant vice president for enrollment management at Florida State University. “The ability to analyze, to critically think, to present information is really wonderful, and I think both courses do a great job of preparing the student for the rest of their lives.”

About PCSS

With schools in Everett (PCSS I) and Saugus (PCSS II), Pioneer Charter School of Science offers a rigorous academic curriculum emphasizing math, science and analytical thinking skills balanced by a strong foundation in the humanities. The school offers extended days/hours and career-oriented college preparation. In order to graduate, students must pass five math and five science classes – more than state standards – and must complete 40 hours of community service. The school has a 195-day school calendar, extended days, afterschool tutoring and “voluntary” Saturday classes for students who need extra help.

About the Advanced Placement Program

The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) enables willing and academically prepared students to pursue college-level studies – with the opportunity to earn college credit, advanced placement or both – while still in high school. Through AP courses in 34 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 admission 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, advanced placement, or both on the basis of 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 2016, 2.6 million students representing more than 21,000 schools around the world, both public and nonpublic, took over 4.7 million AP Exams.

 

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