Academy continues Advanced Placement Excellence through AP Capstone Program

ap capstone

Academy at the Lakes is one of more than 600 schools worldwide to implement AP Capstone™ — an innovative program that allows students to develop the skills that matter most for their future college success: research, collaboration, and communication. The program includes a two-course 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 rigor of Advanced Placement® courses and exams.

AP Capstone Advantage

Academy’s Advanced Placement courses develop and raise the level of scholarly skills of our high school students. The AP Capstone program is the perfect match to further enrich Academy students’ academic journey while preparing them for college, the workplace, and life.

AP Capstone was designed by the AP College Board as, “an innovative diploma program that provides students with an opportunity to engage in rigorous scholarly practice of the core academic skills necessary for successful college completion.”

Director of Curriculum and Instruction Judy Kent shares that the AP Capstone program is uniquely suited to serve Academy’s mission and its core curriculum.

“Academy at the Lakes is confident that any student who has experienced the AP Capstone program will be ready for college work and beyond,” said Mrs. Kent. “The courses create thinkers, doers, communicators, and collaborators. As with our dedication to Academy’s Core Curriculum, the AP Capstone program provides the basis for this success.”

AP Capstone skills:

  • Critical Thinking
  • Research
  • Curiosity
  • Collaboration and Teamwork
  • Communications skills
  • Multiple Perspectives
  • Civic Engagement

In preparation to offer the full AP Capstone program beginning with the 2016-17 school year, this year Academy offered a Pre-Research Foundations course. In this class, students have worked to hone their presentation skills so they can accurately and effectively present their research. The course is geared around technology in both multi-media presentation and online research. Students incorporate media, facts, images, and videos using a variety of platforms and programs.

Mr. Shawn Moore, who co-teaches the class, said: “The goal for this year’s AP Pre-Research classes is to create a mini TED talk for Academy. Next year, students will be required to present a real TED talk and we expect them to be comfortable presenting it to an audience.”


AP Capstone Eligibility

In the spring, teachers recommend current students for the AP Capstone program.

Director of College Counseling Mrs. Debbie Pitcairn explained: “In accepting students into the AP Capstone program, we use the same criteria as we do for AP courses, taking into consideration a wide range of factors:

  • Teacher recommendations
  • Class performance
  • Standardized test scores
  • Intellectual potential
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Study habits
  • Work ethic
  • Interest level for the subject
  • Parental support
  • Student motivation


AP Capstone in Action

Mr. Moore and Mr. Jay Gibson team-teach two sections of Pre-Research Foundations. Self-proclaimed nerds, they are the perfect pair to teach the course.

Said Mr. Moore: “Mr. Gibson teaches the nuts and bolts of the course. He teaches them the how – how to look for bias, how to look for credibility. I’m the philosophy and pedagogy guy – this is the why and the what.”

Currently, students are working on two in-depth research projects – a study on math anxiety and a superhero research project.

Gary Lopez-Perea ’17, who is new to Academy this year, is enrolled in the AP Pre-Research Foundations course in addition to three other Advanced Placement courses.

“I can use the skills I’ve learned in this class in my other courses,” said Gary. “I’ve learned different ways to research, how to detect bias, and how to find credible sources. Research is challenging; done correctly, finding reliable sources is time-consuming.

“The best part of taking this course is that I’ll be able to do my work and know I’m doing it correctly. In the past, I might have butchered my work, and I still submitted it. However, in this class, I know I’m doing it correctly. I now have confidence in my work.”

Daniella Tello-Garzon ’18 is involved with the math anxiety student.

“Eventually, we hope to conduct a longitudinal study regarding math anxiety,” said Daniella. “We have begun interviewing 8th and 11th graders as pilot groups. Once the pilot studies are complete, we will deliver the study to the 9th and 10th graders.”


AP Capstone Achievement

Academy’s current sophomores are poised to serve as Academy’s first students to earn the AP Seminar and Research Certificate indicating successful completion of the following:

  • Individual research-based essay and presentation
  • Team project and presentation
  • End-of-course AP exam with a passing score of 3 or higher

Additionally, students who take four additional AP courses and pass the exams with a 3 or higher will earn further recognition that signifies their outstanding academic achievement and attainment of college-level academic and research skills.

The AP Capstone program provides Academy at the Lakes students with another opportunity to promote creative and critical thinking, communication and collaboration, and citizenship opportunities while promoting a love for learning and preparing them for college and life.

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