Pennridge High School to Offer AP Capstone Diploma Program

Focus Is On College-Level Research, Collaboration and Presentation Skills Crucial for College and Career Success 

Starting in the fall, Pennridge High School will join approx­i­mate­ly 1,800 schools world­wide by imple­ment­ing the AP Capstone Diploma Program, a rig­or­ous aca­d­e­m­ic approach that allows stu­dents to devel­op the research, col­lab­o­ra­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions skills that mat­ter most for col­lege success. 

This inno­v­a­tive pro­gram pre­pares a broad­er, more diverse stu­dent pop­u­la­tion for col­lege and beyond,” said Dr. Kathy Scheid, the dis­tric­t’s direc­tor of cur­ricu­lum, instruc­tion and assess­ment. “It gives our teach­ers more lee­way with cur­ricu­lum choic­es, so their stu­dents can access more chal­leng­ing course­work and sharp­en their read­ing and writ­ing skills.”

In Bucks County, only one oth­er school dis­trict — Quakertown — are high school stu­dents offered the AP Capstone Program, which con­sists of two cours­es tak­en in sequence: AP Seminar and AP Research. 

In AP Seminar, typ­i­cal­ly tak­en by stu­dents in tenth or eleventh grade, stu­dents choose and eval­u­ate com­plex top­ics through mul­ti­ple lens­es, iden­ti­fy cred­i­bil­i­ty and bias in sources, and devel­op argu­ments in sup­port of a rec­om­men­da­tion. A project-based learn­ing course. offi­cial AP Seminar assess­ments include research reports, writ­ten argu­ments, and pre­sen­ta­tions com­plet­ed dur­ing the aca­d­e­m­ic year.

In the sub­se­quent AP Research course, stu­dents design, exe­cute, present, and defend a year­long research-based inves­ti­ga­tion on a top­ic of indi­vid­ual inter­est. They build on skills devel­oped in AP Seminar by learn­ing how to under­stand research method­ol­o­gy, employ eth­i­cal research prac­tices, and col­lect, ana­lyze, and syn­the­size infor­ma­tion to con­tribute to aca­d­e­m­ic research. 

Like AP Seminar, AP Research is a project-based course. Each student’s offi­cial AP Research score is based on their aca­d­e­m­ic paper, pre­sen­ta­tion, and oral defense.

Capstone logoStudents who score a 3 or high­er in AP Seminar and AP Research and on four addi­tion­al AP Exams of their choos­ing earn the AP Capstone Diploma. This sig­ni­fies out­stand­ing aca­d­e­m­ic achieve­ment and attain­ment of college-level aca­d­e­m­ic and research skills. Students who score a 3 or high­er in both AP Seminar and AP Research (but not on four addi­tion­al AP Exams) earn the AP Seminar and Research Certificate.

Pennridge High School’s plans to offer the AP Capstone cours­es begin­ning with AP Seminar in the 2019 – 2020 aca­d­e­m­ic year will enhance cur­rent pro­gram­ming by pro­vid­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents to deeply explore real-world prob­lems with a legit­i­mate pur­pose. These cours­es will also enable stu­dents to gen­er­ate, prac­tice, apply, and mod­i­fy their research skills and abil­i­ties while work­ing to make con­nec­tions between mul­ti­ple dis­ci­plines,” Dr. Dina Dormer, the dis­tric­t’s sec­ondary sci­ence supervisor.

Pennridge High School was among only 373 schools in North America (U.S. and Canada) hon­ored by the College Board with place­ment on its 9th Annual AP District Honor Roll. To be includ­ed, the high school had to, since 2016, increase the num­ber of stu­dents par­tic­i­pat­ing in Advanced Placement class­es while also increas­ing or main­tain­ing the per­cent­age of stu­dents earn­ing AP Exam scores of 3 or higher. 

In Pennsylvania, only 46 high schools earned the dis­tinc­tion. Closer to home, Pennridge was among four Bucks County School high schools to join the Honor Roll this year.

In May 2018, 355 PHS stu­dents, a 28 per­cent increase over the pre­vi­ous year, took a total of 645 AP exams in 21 sub­jects. 82 per­cent of those who took the test scored a 3 or high­er. Their aver­age score was 3.49 on a 5‑point scale.

In addi­tion to two National AP Scholars, the College Board award­ed AP Scholar with Distinction sta­tus to 36 PHS stu­dents (aver­age score of 4.16), AP Scholar with Honor sta­tus to 27 stu­dents (aver­age score of 3.81) and AP Scholar sta­tus to 48 stu­dents (aver­age score of 3.81).

Pennridge High School offers Advanced Placement cours­es in Biology, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Chemistry, Computer Science A, Computer Science Principles, English Language and Composition, English Literature and Composition, Environmental Science, European History, French Language and Culture, Government and Politics, Music Theory, Physics 1, Physics 2, Physics C, Psychology, Spanish Language and Culture, Statistics, Studio Art, United States History, and World History.

Trevor Packer, senior vice pres­i­dent for AP and Instruction at the College Board, said the AP Capstone pro­gram 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.” 

In part­ner­ship with the high­er edu­ca­tion com­mu­ni­ty, the College Board devel­oped AP Capstone so stu­dents can prac­tice skills that serve them well in col­lege and career. Colleges and uni­ver­si­ties have voiced their sup­port for the program. 

We are excit­ed more schools are offer­ing the AP Capstone Diploma pro­gram,” said Kedra Ishop, vice provost for enroll­ment man­age­ment at the University of Michigan. “We believe the research, col­lab­o­ra­tion, and pre­sen­ta­tion skills taught in the two cours­es will be valu­able to stu­dents through­out their aca­d­e­m­ic and pro­fes­sion­al careers.”

Media Contact: Mr. Joe Ferry, Public Relations Coordinator for the Pennridge School District, 267–772-0740; The College Board, 212–713-8052 or