AP Capstone Diploma—Helping Students Synthesize Skills for College Success

“Capstone is a class that will benefit both my academic and intellectual life.Capstone is a class that will benefit both my academic and intellectual life. I’ve never written papers like this before, or done research at such an in-depth level. I know that these are the skills I will use in college, and I even find myself at an advantage in my other classes. The conversations we have in Capstone and hard work we do is valuable, and I really enjoy this class because of this.”–Evelyn, recent AP Capstone student

Advanced Placement (AP) classes provide rigorous academic experiences for high school students to better prepare them for college. However, because of the content breadth of these courses and focus of the skills and exam frameworks, most AP classes do not teach research skills.

For example, a student can take four years of AP social studies without having to write an in-depth research paper. Colleges expect students to have these research skills.

To address the gap in research experiences, Bellevue Schools Foundation is excited to partner with the district and the College Board to pilot the AP Capstone Diploma program.The two AP Capstone courses, with their associated performance tasks, assessments, and application of research methodology, complement the rigor of AP courses and exams by challenging students to:

  • Think critically and creatively to construct meaning or gain understanding
  • Plan and conduct a study or investigation
  • Propose solutions to real-world problems
  • Plan and produce communication in various forms
  • Collaborate to solve a problem
  • Integrate, synthesize, and make cross-curricular connections

The AP Capstone Diploma is awarded to students who successfully complete both the AP Seminar and AP Research courses, in addition to scoring a three or above on four other AP exams. The first Bellevue AP Capstone students graduated in 2017.

This value-added program for AP students is offered at Bellevue and Newport High Schools, and is supported in part by a $23,000 investment by Foundation donors.