Students at El Paso High will have one more tool at their disposal to be successful in college thanks to the addition of an innovative program that could help them focus on independent research, collaborative teamwork and communication skills.
La High next year will begin implementing the two-year AP Capstone program by offering the AP Seminar class for college-bound students. A second class, AP Research, will be added during the 2018-19 school year.
The creation of the AP Capstone program at El Paso High further emphasizes college readiness and preparedness. El Paso High will be the only high school in El Paso and one of only about 60 high schools in Texas to offer the competitive AP Capstone program.
“This shows the community that we are definitely innovative and that we are constantly looking ways to improve the opportunities for our students,” said Cyd Goldfarb, El Paso High college readiness coordinator.
AP Capstone is designed to complement and enhance the in-depth, discipline-specific study provided through other AP courses. The AP Capstone curriculum fosters inquiry, research, collaboration, and writing skills through the intensive investigation of topics from multiple perspectives.
Initially, El Paso High will offer the AP Seminar, which will strengthen students’ writing skills in preparation for college-level academic writing.
“It will give them a sense of rigor,” Goldfarb said. “They will hopefully be at a level that they understand what it takes to be an academic writer.”
Students typically take AP Seminar in the 10th or 11th grade, followed by AP Research, which will be offered beginning in fall 2018.
Students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research and on four additional AP Exams of their choosing will receive the AP Capstone Diploma. This signifies their outstanding academic achievement and attainment of college-level academic and research skills.
Students can research a topic of their choosing, but Goldfarb said the hope is that some will consider topics that emphasize the dual language component to complement El Paso High’s magnet program.
“We want our students to feel supported and we want to push them but not overwhelm them,” Goldfarb said. “This is our way gently pushing them in a place they can achieve.”
Among the qualifications for becoming part of the AP Capstone program, campuses must show strong support of AP courses and testing. Currently, El Paso High has about 500 students taking 1,000 AP tests this spring.
“Research has shown that if a student takes one AP test – regardless if they pass or fail – is much more likely to graduate from college,” Goldfarb said. “That’s one of the reason we push our students. It’s about the experience – not the end result. Having to sit for three-hour test, having to feel nervous, a little bit of anxiety is really important because that’s what they will be experiencing when they’re in college. We don’t want first time experience to be in college. We want them to experience it here with our support and their friends feeling the exact same way. We are giving them opportunity to see that college really is in their future.”