SOMERVILLE, NJ -- Immaculata High School has implemented AP CapstoneTM -- a diploma program that allows high school students to develop skills for 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-study of other Advanced Placement courses and exams.

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“We are thrilled with this opportunity for our students,” said Immaculata Principal Jean Kline. “No school in Somerset, Middlesex, Hunterdon or Mercer counties has this program, and we are only the second Catholic high school in the state to offer this. Started on the college level, this College Board program has recently been expanded to the high school level, and we feel honored to be one of the few in our state to participate in this sophisticated academic program.”

Here is how it works: 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 DiplomaTM. 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 CertificateTM.

Immaculata will offer the AP Seminar in the fall of 2017 with its Marian Scholars (11th and 12th grade students already enrolled in a specialized academically creative program) as its pilot group. The class will be team taught by specially trained instructors and will focus on Catholic teaching and social justice and human dignity issues.

The class, which will meet daily, will equip 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 will tackle complex questions, understand and evaluate opposing viewpoints, interpret and synthesize information, and construct, communicate, and defend evidence-based arguments.

“During the seminar year,” Kline said, “our students will be assessed on their team research papers, media presentations, individual defenses (based on evidence) of the proposed ideas, as well as end of year exams. The following year, our then seniors, who have completed the foundational AP Seminar, will enter the programʼs second-tiered AP Research Program in which they will focus their efforts on a year-long research portfolio project on one topic. In subsequent years we will continue to have qualified juniors join the AP CapstoneTM Program. 

“In speaking to several parents about the prospects of this program,” Kline said, “the reaction was so gratifying. A number of the parents had benefited from this curriculum on a college level and were very pleased that their children, if qualified, could have the opportunity to do the same.”

Assistant Principal for Academics Joe Conry added. "What is particularly exciting about the AP CapstoneTM Program is that it provides the framework for high-end critical thinking, teamwork, writing, public speaking, and cross-curricular exploration. It also elevates what we have been striving for in our Marian Scholars Program. What is equally gratifying is that as we move past this pilot year, we will be able to invite other students into this program.” 

The College Boardʼs 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. 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.

“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. “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.”