SWR School District looking to expand AP program

05/08/2015 12:00 PM |

There are just four schools in the state qualified to teach a new Advanced Placement program called Capstone — a rigorous curriculum that has students write in-depth research papers and dissertations: Brooklyn Technical High School, George W. Hewlett High School, Queens High School for the Sciences at York College, and Williamsville East High School.

Shoreham-Wading River School District wants its high school to become the fifth.

During Tuesday’s school board meeting, high school principal Dan Holtzman and director of humanities Rebecca Chowske gave a presentation about the new program.

In addition to the Capstone program, next year’s curriculum for Shoreham-Wading River High School students may include courses in Spanish, psychology and microeconomics, Ms. Chowske said.

“This is basically going to revolutionize our program,” she said.

Sixty-five percent of the district’s graduating seniors this year have either taken or are currently taking an AP course, Ms. Chowske said, adding the district’s goal is to increase enrollment into the program.

She said the new proposal won’t cost cost the district anything in the 2015-16 school year, as the district would just be planning at that stage. Under the proposal, AP Microeconomics would be offered in the fall of the 2016-17 school year as a half-year course and AP Psychology would be added in the 2017-18 school year, she said.

AP Spanish wouldn’t be taught until 2020, and would first be offered to the students who will be entering middle school now, so that the curriculum is aligned with the AP level class, Ms. Chowske said.

AP English Language and English Literature would also be swapped between the 11th and 12th grades this fall in order to better align with state testing requirements, she said.

The Capstone program, created by the College Board and first introduced in select schools last year, includes seminars, research-intensive classes and semi-independent courses.

The College Board would have to approve the district’s application to join the Capstone program. Ms. Chowske said she’s optimistic the district will be approved since 33 percent of seniors are taking three or more AP courses.

Mr. Holtzman said: “We’re looking to capitalize on that interest.”

Each new class would cost the district $1,000 to train teachers, as well as additional expenses for curriculum updates.

On Tuesday, the school board approved Mr. Holtzman and Ms. Chowske’s request to apply for the Capstone program and move forward with the expanded AP classes.

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Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story and its headline stated the new AP classes will begin next fall. They will begin in Fall 2016.

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