East Hampton High to Offer A.P. Diploma

Prestigious program readies students for college
East Hampton High School will offer its students the opportunity to pursue Advanced Placement Capstone diplomas starting in the 2017-18 school year. Jane Bimson

East Hampton High School is about to become 1 of 17 schools on Long Island to offer an intensive college preparatory course called the Advanced Placement Capstone diploma, a new pilot program developed by the College Board.

School officials announced last week that the high school has been selected to offer the prestigious program, which is research and writing-intensive, starting in the 2017-18 school year.

“It’s quite an achievement for East Hampton High School,” said Richard Burns, the district superintendent, at a school board meeting on Dec. 20.

Teachers will receive training in the program next summer to begin giving courses in the fall. Students take the first course, A.P. Seminar, which “equips students with the ability to look at real-world issues from multiple perspectives,” as sophomores or juniors, and follow it the next year with A.P. Research, in which they design a year-long research project of their own and defend their conclusions in a 5,000-word paper and a public presentation.

A.P. Capstone diploma candidates must also take at least four other A.P. classes from among East Hampton High’s 20 offerings, and must score a minimum of 3 out of 5 on each final exam to earn the distinction.  Many colleges accept A.P. exam scores of 3 and above as substitutes for college credits.

“This innovative program gets a broader, more diverse student population ready for college and beyond,” Adam Fine, the high school principal, said in a release. “The program gives our teachers more leeway with curriculum choices so their students can access more challenging coursework and sharpen their reading and writing skills.”

A.P. Capstone bears some similarities to the International Baccalaureate program, a different model of college-prep coursework offered in high schools around the world that is offered at Pierson’s middle and high school in Sag Harbor. One key difference is cost: The Star reported in August 2015 that I.B. schools pay about $13,500 to apply for the program; about $8,000 for annual membership, and about $20,000 for teacher training. A.P. Capstone costs less, Mr. Fine said, with no application or membership fees. Training is $1,250 per teacher per year, with an anticipated four teachers to be trained next summer and three more for the 2017-18 school year. Students, however, bear the cost of the A.P. exams, which run about $100 per test. East Hampton will offer discounts for students on the free and reduced-price lunch program and students with other financial needs.

Any East Hampton High school student, regardless of prior academic performance, can enroll in an A.P. class. Many other schools reserve A.P. classes for honors students or those recommended specifically by a teacher, and the College Board, which administers the A.P. exams, recognized the open enrollment policy in selecting the district for participation in Capstone. About 650 schools in the nation and 1,000 worldwide now offer the program.

“It’s going to be an incredible thing for our kids here,” Mr. Fine said.