A dozen city schools will offer advanced placement programs focused on research, team work, and communication skills beginning in the 2019-20 academic year, announced superintendent Eileen Shafer on Monday morning.
The Advanced Placement (AP) Capstone Diploma Program by College Board is made up of two courses – AP Seminar and AP Research — taken in sequence.
AP Seminar, taken in 10th or 11th grade, allows students to investigate a real-world issue from multiple perspectives, according to the College Board. Students gather information from multiple sources to write research-based essays that have to be designed and delivered as oral and visual presentations. Students deliver their presentations individually and as part of a team.
AP Research allows students to expand skills learned in AP Seminar by understanding methodology and using ethical research practices. Students document their processes and produce a 4,000 to 5,000 words academic paper. The paper has to be accompanied by a performance or exhibition of the findings. Students have to defend their findings in an oral presentation, according to the College Board.
“Make no mistake, this is a challenging program. Students who participate will work hard and do more than what the state requires to finish high school,” said Shafer. She faced criticism from school board members earlier in the school year for having only a small number of students enrolled in advanced placement courses. “But meeting great challenges means great rewards. And students who meet the challenges of the AP Capstone program will be ready for college and able to achieve career success. Most importantly, they will be equipped with skills that can enable them to have a very positive impact on the world.”
Students at the following schools will be able to enroll in the AP program in the fall:
- Rosa L. Parks School of Fine and Performing Arts
- Academy of Health Science (a.k.a. HARP Academy)
- Garrett Morgan Academy
- International High School
- P.A.N.T.H.E.R. Academy
- The School of Architecture and Construction Trades (at the JFK Educational Complex)
- The School of Business, Technology, Marketing & Finance (at the JFK Educational Complex)
- The School of Education and Training (at the JFK Educational Complex)
- The School of Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (at the JFK Educational Complex)
- The Culinary Arts, Hospitality & Tourism School (at Eastside High School)
- The School of Government & Public Administration (at Eastside High School)
- The School of Information Technology (at Eastside High School).
“Making the AP Capstone Diploma available at Paterson’s Choice high schools meets the district’s objective to prepare our students for prosperous careers through academic rigor and developing essential skills,” said Eric Crespo, associate chief academic officer at the Paterson Public Schools. “We encourage all Paterson students, whether they are in high school or looking forward to beginning high school, to consider the AP Capstone program as an investment in their own future successes.”
Education advocates welcomed the latest offerings.
“Based on what you’ve told me, it sounds good,” said Rosie Grant, executive director for the Paterson Education Fund.
Grant hopes the offerings are part of a system-wide approach that puts students in lower grades on a trajectory to take AP courses upon reaching high school.
The school district has deep academic challenges that have to be tackled to allow students to succeed in advanced placement courses. For example, under 2-percent of students scored 4 and 5, passing marks, in Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and geometry of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams at 7 of 14 high schools last school year.
“We have to do something earlier so that they are at the level where they can take the AP course and be successful. Any one thing by itself won’t fix that,” said Grant. “I know we have put some things in place at the elementary and middle school level that would move kids in that direction.”
Grant alluded to the district’s new reading program and better teacher training.