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AP Capstone program coming to Burnaby
Burnaby North will be one of only six schools in Canada to offer the Advanced Placement (AP) Capstone diploma program starting in September 2014.
The new program, developed by the same College Board that created AP, is currently only offered in one school in Canada, in Edmonton, and 18 schools worldwide.
“Burnaby School District’s AP program is one of the largest in Canada,” said Burnaby school board chair Baljinder Narang. “When we learned of this program, we moved quickly to be considered. It is highly regarded amongst post-secondary schools and it provides further academic opportunities for our students.”
While some Burnaby families have been calling for a return of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program to the district, there are a number of advantages to going with AP Capstone, said district deputy superintendent Gina Niccoli-Moen.
It provides the elements the district was seeking in IB, such as development of critical thinking skills and personalized learning, while offering an academic challenge and preparation for university.
It's also the least disruptive since it gives students the choice of staying with the existing AP program, which can result in university credits if students' exam marks reach a certain threshold, or choosing the even more challenging AP Capstone option, Niccoli-Moen said.
Those in the Capstone program will complete two new AP courses—AP seminar and AP research—aimed at helping develop skills that can lead to success in college and future careers, along with four other AP courses. The program's second year includes a requirement for an original thesis on a topic selected by the student.
With AP firmly established in the Burnaby district, the trained staff and necessary infrastructure are already in place, allowing the district to implement Capstone as early as next year.
In contrast, IB would cost more to implement and includes a three-year authorization process, significant application and annual fees and other ongoing costs, she said. The earliest the district could have offered that option would have been the fall of 2016.
AP Capstone has set a maximum of 100 students for the program, said Niccoli-Moen.
"Given the numbers of Burnaby students that have had an interest in taking AP courses, we anticipate that we will be filling all of these seats with secondary schools throughout the district, including students from Burnaby North, and district students will have priority."
Grade 11 Burnaby North student Tony Yu, 16, said when principal Gordon Li explained the new program to his AP biology class "everyone was very excited."
He is considering entering the Capstone, saying it appears to offer courses that are not just purely academic, but aimed at better preparing him for university.