Norwalk High School will join 53 California high schools in offering a new Advanced Placement (AP) Capstone diploma program in fall 2017 that teaches students college-level research skills.

AP Capstone is a new tier of specialized instruction that centers on collaborative learning and critical thinking, allowing students to strengthen their reasoning processes and analytic techniques.

“The AP Capstone diploma program provides additional options for students who are looking to challenge themselves academically and meet their goals in higher education,” NLMUSD Superintendent Dr. Hasmik Danielian said. “The Capstone courses will help our students prepare to fill out applications and meet with college recruiters.”

The AP Capstone program will introduce two new year-long classes that will complement existing AP curriculum:

  • AP Seminar: To begin fall 2017, this course will provide a starting point for juniors, stressing information-gathering and strengthening discussion skills;
  • AP Research: To begin fall 2018, this course will encourage independent research and provides a forum for seniors to support their investigative conclusions.

“Our students will be equipped with the research and discussion skills needed to excel in higher education,” Norwalk High Principal Dr. Christina Stanley said. “Earning the AP Capstone diploma or AP Seminar and Research Certificate will speak to the students’ ability to successfully complete college-level courses.”

Students will receive an AP Capstone diploma if they earn scores of 3 or better on both their AP Seminar and AP Research assessments, as well as four additional AP Exams of their choosing. If students earn a 3 or better in Seminar and Research assessments but not the four additional exams, they will receive the AP Seminar and Research Certificate.

Three years ago, Norwalk High eliminated the academic requirements needed to participate in the AP program, and provided open access for all students. Enrollment in AP courses has since skyrocketed, from 243 AP students in 2013 to over 660 in 2016. The number of AP exams taken has increased from 432 in 2013 to over 1,000 in 2016.

“The rigorous AP Capstone curriculum fits perfectly with Norwalk-La Mirada Unified’s goal of providing all of our students access to the tools that will prepare them for college and career,” NLMUSD Board President Sean Reagan said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to be introduced to a variety of subjects while being immersed in challenging coursework.”

The Norwalk High teacher who will be chosen to teach AP Seminar will attend a five-day training session this summer.