District to offer new AP program

Sophomores get enrollment opportunity with college-applicable credit

Graphic by Dymtro Guzhva

Graphic by Dymtro Guzhva

By Kansas Gibler

Advanced students will see more opportunities to be challenged next school year.

This fall, USD 497 will introduce AP Capstone, a program formulated by the College Board to support students by assisting them with Advanced Placement skills.

“It is an attempt to bring some AP students’ studies together to find a central path to unify research and composition,” English department chairman Michael Carriger said

Students must get a three or higher on at least six AP Exams (including the two Capstone Exams) to receive the AP Capstone Diploma. Alternatively, students can opt to take just the Capstone courses and receive an AP Seminar and Research Certificate at graduation.

Capstone is supposedly the College Board’s answer to International Baccalaureate (IB). For a long time, the IB program has led students into adulthood, equipping them with skills that colleges look for.

“IB has been around for decades and is established and is very effective and beneficial for a certain set of students,” Carriger said.

Carriger, like several other high school teachers in the district, was put on a committee charged with investigating IB and how the district could go about implementing it.

“Initially we were looking at the possibility of implementing the International Baccalaureate,” school board member Rick Ingram said. “We investigated that for two years, [members of the board] actually visited one of the schools in Johnson County where they have [IB].”

Ingram had originally proposed the idea of implementing IB in the district. They soon determined IB would be extremely costly and would be have to be completely separate from the pre-existing AP curriculum.

“In the end, the committee who was investigating this recommended that these are both great programs but in fact AP Capstone is a little more consistent with what we do now, it’s a really good program, and we’d like to go in that direction,” Ingram said.

Besides consistency, money was a large issue when considering IB.

“The AP Capstone program is, for a district, much less expensive as there are no participation fees or registration fees paid by the district,” USD 497 director of teaching and learning Sarah Oatsvall said.

“The only expenses a district incurs to be a part of the program is the cost of the required professional development for teachers who will be teaching the AP Seminar and AP Research classes.”

After making the decision to implement Capstone, the district now has to deal with staffing and scheduling for the classes.

“We needed to figure out which teachers would be interested in teaching it,” Carriger said. “And who best brought the skills needed to teach it well.”

Currently, English teacher Kim O’Brien is set to teach the AP Seminar and AP Research classes for the next few years after attending training this summer.

“Ms. O’Brien is going to do a fantastic job,” Carriger said. “She’s interested in research, she’s interested in writing, she has a wonderful mind that is open to all sorts of issues and topics around the world.”