Why Advanced Topic Courses?

Our multi-year research process to improve, innovate, and adapt our educational program for twenty-first century learners revealed that to be a world leader in education, we would have to rethink our most challenging classes for high school students.

The specific recommendation that emerged was to introduce Advanced Topic (AT) courses that will cultivate exceptional thinkers by supplementing and balancing our extensive Advanced Placement (AP) offerings. AT courses are intended to help our students be prepared for the future by giving them learning opportunities relevant to our changing world and aligned to our desired student learning outcomes (DSLOs).

Our research revealed that, while Advanced Placement (AP) courses are rigorous, some of them focus primarily on the acquisition of content knowledge at the expense of important, transferable skills and concepts. Furthermore, the AP program does not allow us to offer advanced courses of special interest to our students, such as tropical ecology, entrepreneurship, kinesiology, or Chinese history taught in Chinese. We found that similar concerns are causing many excellent American high schools to develop their own college-level courses, and that college admissions officers are generally supportive of these efforts and enthusiastic about students’ honors-level accomplishments beyond the traditional AP structure.

By retaining those AP courses that fit our educational priorities and complementing them with AT courses designed specifically for our place and time, we offer students more rewarding options and opportunities to challenge themselves in their studies, prepare themselves for their futures, and distinguish themselves in the college application process.


Giving High School Students Opportunities to

Pursue unique courses of study

with rigorous, skills-based curricula and real-world application

Experience college-level classes

developed by expert high school teachers collaborating with university professors

Complete challenging, self-directed

projects that develop the knowledge and skills relevant to the field of study and students' future ambitions

Differentiate themselves

in the college admissions process through distinctive academic experiences and accomplishments

How Are Our AT Courses Different From Our AP Courses

While our AP courses typically give students a breadth of knowledge about specific subject areas and prepare them for the standardized AP test in that subject, our AT courses are designed to give students an equally rigorous but very different experience. Our priorities for our AT courses are that they:

encourage depth of inquiry and interdisciplinary connections
allow students to focus on specific topics and projects that interest them
develop students' essential competencies, that is, the core skills and knowledge that will be essential to their success in college and beyond
encourage high levels of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation
develop the SAS DSLOs while exploring both theoretical and real-world topics
be relevant to students' future academic and employment ambitions
engage students in challenging individual and group projects that demand planning, perseverance, and reflection

AT Courses were created in collaboration with college professors and vetted by university admissions representatives.

AT? AP? Why Does SAS Offer Both?

We are committed to providing each SAS student with high quality, personalized learning opportunities. We see our AT and AP courses as complementing each other in this goal. These two types of college-level classes give SAS students varied opportunities to learn different skills and topics, address different criteria for excellence, explore their own interests, and distinguish themselves from other applicants in the college admissions process.

The SAS college counselors have asked hundreds of college representatives what they think of AT courses, and the response has been universal approval. US colleges do encourage applicants to take the most rigorous course loads possible in which they can do well. AT courses allow SAS students to demonstrate the highest level of rigor in a wide range of course areas. US colleges often look for students who delve into particular areas, who are interesting, who have engaged in coursework with real-world applications, and who differentiate themselves from their peers. AT courses offer students a way to do all of these things.Tina Forbush, SAS College Counselor

We recognize the academic value of many Advanced Placement courses, especially as the College Board has rewritten a number of them to address schools’ concerns about their pace and breadth of inquiry. We also respect the deep culture that SAS has regarding our AP curriculum and the preference of many SAS families that students have access to a strong suite of AP courses. For these reasons, our strategic plan calls for retaining high-quality AP courses that have been approved by our vetting team of teachers, administrators, counselors, and admissions representatives. As we phase out four AP courses by 2019-20, our AP program will comprise around twenty courses.

Our AT courses offer students different opportunities for rewarding academic engagement and differentiation in the college admissions process. Some AT courses address topics not available through the AP program, while others will replace AP courses that do not fit our priorities for student learning. When applicable and stated in the high school program planning guide, AT courses will offer students the opportunity to take the relevant AP exam. All AT courses are designed to require rigorous study, deep thinking, interdisciplinary connections, and mastery of competencies relevant to students’ future academic and professional interests. Our strategic plan calls for the gradual expansion of our AT program over the next few years until it also includes around twenty courses.

Altogether, our high school will offer over forty college-level courses by 2020. We anticipate that most our high school students will opt to take one or more of each type of course during their high school career, and we are confident that together our AT and AP offerings give students enhanced challenges and opportunities in the context of an exemplary American educational experience with an international perspective.

AT Nuts and Bolts

Development and Oversight of AT Courses

We base the development of each AT course on the imperative to teach SAS students knowledge and skills relevant to future opportunities and not otherwise taught at an advanced level at SAS. Our AT courses span a broad range of subject areas, from business to physics and urban planning to performing arts.

Before receiving its first students, each AT course goes through a rigorous 18-month development and vetting process. AT teachers are selected based on their professional experience, expertise in the subject area, and desire to embrace a unique research and teaching challenge. During course development, the teacher benchmarks the course against similar advanced course offerings at other schools, consults with SAS colleagues and college admissions officers to ensure rigor and alignment with our DSLOs, and finds a university professor who will act as a strategic partner.

As the course is finalized, the professor checks it carefully to ensure that both its curriculum and assessments meet college-level requirements. Only then does the university partner officially endorse the course, and only then is it considered ready for student enrollment. Once the course is running, it continues to undergo scrutiny through a comprehensive audit process involving feedback and advice from SAS faculty and administrators, university partners, and students.

Student selection of AT Courses

  • Due to their rigorous requirements and prerequisites, most AT courses are only open to students in grades 11 and 12.
  • AT courses are designed to be accessible to all students who have successfully completed the relevant academic prerequisites or application process.
  • Students work with their personal academic counselors to develop an appropriate and challenging course of study, which may or may not include both AP and AT courses.
  • Like AP courses, AT courses may span either one or two semesters.
  • Students in the Quest program have Quest-specific AT options.

How many courses may a student take?

  • Students may take as many AT courses as they wish during their high school years. Counselors will help them make wise choices about challenging themselves while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
  • SAS has capped the number of AP courses at seven year-long equivalent courses during a student’s high school years. This is intended to decrease pressure on students to take as many AP courses as possible and allow them to pursue other avenues to develop their interests and personalize their learning. This cap was instituted after extensive conversations with over 100 college admissions officers, many of whom noted that the “AP arms race” often limits a student’s ability to engage in activities that set him or her apart in the application process.

AT course grades

  • Students receive letter grades for AT courses, which are increased by 0.5 in the student’s GPA calculation, as are AP course grades. This is intended to recognize these courses’ demanding expectations, and encourage students to challenge themselves with high-level courses.
  • Some colleges recalculate a student’s GPA using their own criteria. Some do not accept the 0.5 weighting for either AP or AT courses, while some only accept it for one or the other. Our college counselors work with each student to understand the specifics of his or her target colleges.
  • Regardless of the GPA calculation, college admissions officers generally view AT courses as indicating both a student’s commitment to a challenging academic program and a deep interest in a certain field of study.

Exams and college recognition of AT courses

  • AT courses culminate in student-directed projects, but do not lead to an external examination.
  • In some cases, students taking an AT course may also take an AP exam in that subject. This may necessitate some independent study by the student.
  • Depending on the college, an AT course may be allowed to serve as a prerequisite for a higher-level course. In general, colleges do not allow AT courses to count as college credits.

Our AT Courses Create Students who Can tackle the ever-changing problems of our future.

What Students Say

"I signed up for AT Entrepreneurship on a whim; as a senior, I wanted to try a class that was project-based and collaborative, rather than focused on readings and tests. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised when we had the opportunity to work with two real-life startup businesses, coming up with solutions for their problems and interviewing potential customers. Entrepreneurship is thoroughly unlike the traditional classroom experience, something which makes it both challenging and exciting to come to class each day.”Ruth J, student,
AT Entrepreneurship
"From constructing the square root of a number using just a compass and straight edge to discovering triangles whose angle sums add up to more than 180 degrees, I have loved every astonishing aspect of AT Post-Euclidean Geometry. Now, I have a whole new understanding of the true beauty of geometry.”Annie K., student,
AT Post-Euclidean Geometry
"I took the AT Tropical Ecology/AP Environmental Science course [now AT Environmental Science & Field Research] due to my strong interest in pursuing environmental science in college… the rigor of my AT course was the equivalent of that of an AP, sometimes even proving to be more difficult, since we were often tested on concepts that were not a part of the AP curriculum. Furthermore, the expectation was to learn for the sake of learning, not for the sake of short-term retention for a test. Thus, the AT course would take us into more depth on certain topics that concerned us, which for an environmental science course in Singapore would be “tropical ecology”. I truly believe that I learned much more and furthered my skills in communications, making connections, and creativity, which might have not been possible in just any AP course.”Ana V., student,
AT Environmental Science & Field Research
"The AT Performing Arts class has pushed me out of the comforts of my regular music and drama classes by asking me to really examine why I choose to be a performer and what makes me an artist. Through the creation of digital portfolios and artistic statements, our abilities to articulate those specific inner feelings of passion and devotion are nurtured and refined. It is one of the most enriching classes I have taken at SAS, covering all aspects of a regular advanced arts course (online music theory, senior recitals, theater production leadership), while adding interdisciplinary collaboration with other creative minds.”Mika M., student,
AT Performing Arts

AT Students Survey

Relevant content skills and application

relevant content skills and application

Competency-based
rigor

relevant content skills and application

DSLO
development

relevant content skills and application

Depth over
breadth

relevant content skills and application

Focus on
production

relevant content skills and application

Real-world
application

relevant content skills and application

Rigor relative
to AP courses

relevant content skills and application


What statement best compares the rigor of this AT course as compared to your AP experience?

24.1% more rigor28.4% less rigorous43.1% Same rigor

Advanced topic Courses give our kids the competitive edge in college admissions and completion, and in their roles as leaders.

How College Admissions Officers View AT Courses

The hundreds of college admissions officers we consulted before developing our first AT courses and since launching the program have in general been very enthusiastic. They strongly believe that our DSLOs of character, collaboration, communication, content knowledge, creativity, critical thinking, and cultural competence are essential skills in college and beyond. They also agree that AT courses’ unique subject matter and college-level challenges can help students stand out in the application process.

To ensure that universities understand how our AT courses fit into our broader program of studies, SAS college counselors have taken additional steps to educate universities about them. We include information about our AT offerings in our school profile and counselors speak about them with every university representative visiting SAS (approximately 230 per year). College counselors may also include information regarding AT courses in students’ recommendation letters.

As more schools decide to offer comparable honors-level courses, college admissions staff have become increasingly sophisticated in their understanding of the benefits they offer. In developing our AT courses, we looked at other high-performing private and public schools that have successfully implemented similar programs, such as Phillips Academy, University of Chicago Laboratory School, San Francisco University School, Scarsdale High School, Sidwell Friends School, Nueva School, and Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences. In fact, Scarsdale, a large public school with demographics similar to ours, had like concerns when they transitioned from AP to AT. They now have ten years’ worth of data that demonstrate that their college admission rates have held steady or improved since they introduced their Advanced Topics curriculum.

"[In AT Chinese Language: History] students are encouraged to choose various topics with their research interest, [and] even to challenge some controversial topics at college level… [having reviewed some students’ work] I appreciate their maturity in writing structures which help express their views logically and reasonably. I could also see students’ efforts in employing exact and appropriate words and phrases to enrich their writings. With students’ higher enthusiasm about and participation in the AT course. . . plus more authentic materials for their readings and writings, I believe [AT Chinese Language: History] is qualified to meet the basic course requirements at the college level.”
Dr. Tao Jianmin, Professor,
East China Normal University, Shanghai, China
"I am proud to endorse the new Advanced Topic (AT) course in Kinesiology at Singapore American School. The course embodies the ideals that educators strive for when developing advanced academic programming through school-university partnerships and is designed to provide SAS high school students with introductory college-level preparation in kinesiology… The course content, instructional approaches, and applied learning tasks move well beyond the book learning and seatwork of typical, and even many advanced, high school classes. I believe AT Kinesiology will serve as a model for course development and delivery in other subjects, and in other schools, helping to set the trend for 21st century secondary education.”Dr. Collin A. Webster, Associate Professor and Chair,
Department of Physical Education, University of South Carolina

Courses in High School

AT English: Writing Seminar

ID: 41045
Grade: 11-12
Length: Year
Credit: English
Prerequisite: B or higher in an AP English course, or a B+ or higher in American Studies, English 10, or a junior/senior options course. Enrolled students will be required to submit a portfolio of creative writing pieces prior to the fall semester in order to remain in the course. See your English teacher for details.

This course offers an intensive, year-long inquiry into the creative writing and publication process. The course will operate in a small writers’ community to be structured on the Iowa Writers’ Workshop model used in creative writing departments across the world, but scaled for a high school student. The course is designed for students who already have a regular writing process in any creative genre and can demonstrate a passion for creative writing with a portfolio of work. The course will feature a variety of units to develop insight and skills centered on creativity and producing a collaborative professional publication. These units include: idea generation through journaling and writing exercises, designing and refining sentences and forms, producing and iterating drafts of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, demonstrating courage to explore different approaches through radical revision, creating with others through writing workshop, and reflecting on the creative process in a journal and portfolio. The course will feature regular workshops to improve drafting and editing skills, study and analysis of works and writers (based on student voice and choice) that examines process and audience as well as key ideas and craft, structured encounters with visiting local and international authors, a writer’s retreat to encourage growth of relationships and community, and production of a publication of student work (print, digital, and/or performance) based on inquiry into contemporary publishing practices. This course was collaboratively developed and endorsed by Professor Robin Hemley from Yale-NUS in 2016. The Advanced Topic (AT) designation indicates a course is at university level, putting it at or above the level of a traditional Advanced Placement (AP) course. This course has a grade point weighting of 0.5.

AT Entrepreneurship

ID: 46560
Grade: 10-12
Length: Semester
Credit: Elective
Prerequisite: Semester 1 grade of A or better in World History/World Studies is required to select this course in tenth grade; a B or higher in a 10th or 11th grade social studies course is required to select this course in eleventh or twelfth grade, or current teacher recommendation.

Entrepreneurship provides real world, hands-on learning on what it’s like to actually start a company. The goal is to give students a framework to test the business model of a startup while creating all of the pressures and demands of the real world in an early stage start up. They will learn marketing, finance, and other business disciplines, while also acquiring organizational skills such as time management and leadership development. The class is also a vehicle to develop character, intellect, and resilience in students. Students start the semester with an immediate immersion into the Lean Startup methodology adopted from University of California Berkeley and Design Thinking techniques from Stanford University.

As students develop skills through working in the field, observing and interviewing to discover problems, and learning techniques for validating hypotheses they learn by doing, through real world problems and collaborating with real entrepreneurs. Students work with carefully selected Singapore entrepreneurs, who present real and urgent business problems with hard deliverables and deadlines. Students learn processes including customer development, agile development and rapid prototyping.

Throughout the course, students will learn to problem solve, think critically, make well-informed decisions, communicate effectively, and engage in productive and successful team work. In the final portion of the course, students use everything they’ve learned about entrepreneurship and group work to launch their own startups.

This course has been developed in alignment with the University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business and Stanford University Entrepreneurial Program. The Advanced Topic (AT) designation indicates a course is at university level, putting it at or above the level of a traditional Advanced Placement (AP) course. The course requires rigorous study and emphasizes in-depth research. Like an AP course, this course has a grade point weighting of 0.5 for the duration of the course.

AT Urban Studies

ID: 42060
Grade: 11-12
Length: Semester
Credit: Social Studies
Prerequisite: Completion of AP Human Geography, or a B or higher in a 10th or 11th grade social studies course is required to select this course, or current teacher recommendation.

Students will study urban development from a historical and a geographic perspective focusing on themes, trends, and challenges that have faced urban planners. Students will engage in various interdisciplinary assignments and projects which demonstrate understanding of the key concepts, content, and skills associated with city design and analysis. Students will apply this knowledge to Singapore and look for themes and patterns related to various community stakeholders. Students will then focus on a theme of personal interest which will form the basis of field work research paper/project. Themes could relate to topics such as gentrification, green space, the negotiation between private and public interests, architecture, transportation, leisure and recreation, or government housing, and may focus on one specific location, such as the their own neighborhood.

Following the fieldwork-based research, students will look at the main challenges and issues facing urban planners today around the world. The culminating summative project will be a research project which can take a variety of forms, but will address one of these issues. Students will also share a presentation which summarizes their research and findings. This course will involve research in the field, and will require students to visit sites in their own time, and be responsible for conducting that field research. This course was collaboratively developed and endorsed by Shivani Singh, Head of Department at the Institute of Urban and Regional Planning, Mumbai, India in 2017. The AT designation indicates a course is at university level, putting it at or above the level of a traditional AP course. The course requires rigorous study and emphasizes in-depth research. Like an AP course, this course has a grade point weighting of 0.5 for the duration of the course.

AT Kinesiology

ID: 48000
Grade: 11-12
Length: Semester
Credit: Physical Education
Prerequisite: Completion of Biology and a B+ in Chemistry or B in Accelerated Chemistry.

This course is designed to provide students with selected foundational knowledge in kinesiology. Modules focus on basic anatomy and introduce key aspects of exercise physiology, biomechanics, and motor behavior. Students will have the opportunity to apply course content through project-based learning. Projects may look to explore and investigate areas such as human performance, personal wellness, public health, and quality of life across the lifespan. This course aims to prepare students to pursue further studies in physical education and medical fields. This course was collaboratively developed and endorsed by Professor Collin Webster at the University of South Carolina in 2016. The AT designation indicates a course is at university level, putting it at or above the level of a traditional AP course. The course requires rigorous study and emphasizes in-depth research. Like an AP course, this course has a grade point weighting of 0.5.

AT Post-Euclidean Geometry

ID: 43041
Grade: 10-12
Length: Semester 1
Credit: Math
Prerequisite: Semester 1 grade of A or higher in Accelerated Math I, Algebra II/Trig; or a B or higher in FST or higher level math course.

This elective course is designed for students who seek further advanced study and applications beyond the Geometry course, involving concepts acquired in Algebra II/Trigonometry. Topics will include non-Euclidean geometries, further work with transformations and constructions, and higher level work with conic sections. Project-based learning will be prevalent, involving real-world applications, such as the shapes of satellite dishes, origami, animation design, and the spherical geometry of the Earth. This course was collaboratively developed and endorsed by Professor Edmund Harriss at the University of Arkansas in 2017. The AT designation indicates a course is at university level, putting it at or above the level of a traditional AP course. The course requires rigorous study and emphasizes in-depth research. Like an AP course, this course has a grade point weighting of 0.5 for the duration of the course.

AT Finite Math Modeling

ID: 43042
Grade: 10-12
Length: Semester II
Credit: Math
Prerequisite: Semester 1 grade of A or higher in Accelerated Math I, Algebra II/Trig; or a B or higher in FST or higher level math course.

This elective course is designed for students who seek high level applications of math to real life situations. Mathematics will be used to explain and analyze elections, fair allocation of resources, and scheduling. Mathematical models will be used based on matrices, game theory, and graph theory. Project-based learning will be prevalent, involving real-world applications, such as perceived rewards, transportation networks, different systems of voting, and critical path schedules. This course was collaboratively developed and endorsed by Professor Eric Hart at the Grand View University in 2017. The AT designation indicates a course is at university level, putting it at or above the level of a traditional AP course. The course requires rigorous study and emphasizes in-depth research. Like an AP course, this course has a grade point weighting of 0.5 for the duration of the course.

AT Environmental Science & Field Research

ID: 44036
Grade: 11-12
Length: Year
Credit: Life Science
Prerequisite: B+ or higher in Biology or a B or better in Molecular Biology and a B or higher in Semester 1 Accelerated Chemistry. A Chemistry course can be taken concurrently with teacher recommendation.

This is a college-level course integrating the study of ecology and environmental science. In addition to the fundamental concepts of ecology, students will study, analyze and evaluate a wide range of environmental issues both natural and man-made, making connections between science, technology and society, and solutions for resolving and/or preventing environmental problems. Topics will include: sustainability, the structure and function of ecosystems, population dynamics, climate, water, mineral and soil resources, waste reduction and prevention, global food resources, biodiversity, energy resources, and environmental economics and politics. Tropical ecology investigations will include both lab and field-work in regional Southeast Asia ecosystems including mangroves, rocky shore and sandy beach, coral reefs, primary and secondary rainforests, and human impacted systems such as, plantation agriculture, urban systems. Local environmental monitoring will include physicochemical sampling and analysis of water, soil and air quality, plant and animal population dynamics and biodiversity to determine relative ecosystem integrity. Students will be prepared to take the College Board AP Environmental Science exam. This course was collaboratively developed and endorsed by Dr. Michiel Van Breugel, Tropical Ecologist, YaleNUS College in 2016. The Advanced Topic (AT) designation indicates a course is at university level, putting it at or above the level of a traditional Advanced Placement (AP) course. This course has a grade point weighting of 0.5.

AT Computational Physics

ID: 44050
Grade: 11-12
Length: Year
Credit: Science
Prerequisite: Semester 1 grade of A in Algebra II or completion of Algebra II/Trig or higher level math course.

AT Computational Physics is an introductory course in physics that will also incorporate coding using vPython and mathematical modeling using Excel. The first three quarters of the year will be dedicated to learning the introductory concepts ideas of classical mechanics as well as an introduction to coding. Students would learn physics theory, perform experiments and compare their experimental results to the data predicted via modeling. The last quarter of the year would be dedicated to individualized, student-initiated and designed advanced projects using and applying the physics and computer-generated data. The Advanced Topic (AT) designation indicates a course is at university-level, putting it at or above the level of a traditional Advanced Placement (AP) course. The course requires rigorous study and emphasizes in-depth research. Like an AP course, this course has a grade point weighting of 0.5 for the duration of the course. *This course is not designed to align fully to the AP Physics 1 curriculum, and therefore, students will not be fully prepared for the AP Physics 1 Exam. Should students wish to sit the AP exam, they will need to complete independent work to self-study one unit and prepare for the AP Exam.

AT Chinese Language: History

ID: 45029
Grade: 11-12
Length: Year
Credit: Language
Prerequisite: Minimum proficiency level of Advanced Low across all four skills.

This inquiry and project-based course will provide students with the opportunity to gain deeper understanding of the significance of key historical periods in Chinese history, while developing their advanced Chinese language proficiency. The course is also designed for students to identify their interests in specific areas of Chinese history and culture and delve into the process of researching, analyzing, and reevaluating existing perceptions or stereotypes, to draw their own evidence-based conclusions of the significance of some historical phenomena. Students will be expected to complete a comprehensive project related to their own areas of interest each semester. The course will include an extended essay and oral presentation based on their research to demonstrate the final learning outcomes. The course was collaboratively developed and endorsed by Dr. Tao Jian Min, professor at East China Normal University in Shanghai, China. The Advanced Topic (AT) designation indicates a course is at university level, putting it at or above the level of a traditional Advanced Placement (AP) course. The course requires rigorous study and emphasizes in-depth research. Like an AP course, this course has a grade point weighting of 0.5.

AT Computer Science: Data Structures

ID: 44540
Grade: 11-12
Length: Year
Credit: Elective
Prerequisite: Semester I grade of B or higher in AP Computer Science.

This course is a standard college course on algorithms and data structures in an object-oriented environment. The sorting algorithms include selection, insertion, merge, quick, and heap. The data structures include arrays, linked lists, stacks, queues, trees, sets, maps, and graphs. Additional topics include recursion, the Java Collections framework, Big-O analysis, unit testing, and class design. The programming language is Java. Students taking this course should be independent thinkers able to spend a significant amount of time at a computer outside of class. This course goes well beyond the material tested by the College Board’s Advanced Placement© Computer Science A exam. This TEC - 40 2017 Program Planning Guide course is project-based and very hands-on, and emphasizes a use of real world data whenever possible. This course was collaboratively developed and endorsed by Professor Mike Scott at the University of Texas at Austin in 2017. The AT designation indicates a course is at university level, putting it above the level of a traditional AP course. The course requires rigorous study and emphasizes in-depth research. Like an AP course, this course has a grade point weighting of 0.5 for the duration of the course.

AT Seminar

ID: 48520
Grade: 10-11
Length: Year
Credit: Elective
Prerequisite: Semester 1 grade of A in both English 9 and World History or an A in World Studies is required to select this course in tenth grade; Semester 1 grade of B+ or higher in English 10 or American Studies is required to select this course in eleventh grade.

The AT Seminar course is an inquiry-driven course that engages students in cross-curricular conversations that explore real-world topics and issues from multiple perspectives. Students learn to collect and analyze information with accuracy and precision in order to craft and communicate evidence-based arguments. The AT Seminar is year one of the AT Research & Catalyst program; merging the AT Seminar/AT Research program with the Catalyst project allows students to reflect on their passions and strengths while they develop the skills that help them to think and write academically. Upon completion of the AT Seminar, students will be prepared for a research, performance, or innovation AT Research & Catalyst experience the following academic year. This course has fully adopted the AP Seminar curriculum, and therefore, students will be eligible to take the AP Seminar exam in preparation for earning the AP Capstone Diploma. The AT designation indicates a course is at university level, putting it at or above the level of a traditional AP course. The course requires rigorous study and emphasizes in-depth research. Like an AP course, this course has a grade point weighting of 0.5 for the duration of the course.

What is the AP Capstone Diploma?

To receive the AP Capstone Diploma, students must successfully complete both AT Seminar and AT Research & Catalyst. In addition, they must earn a score of 3 or higher on both the AP Seminar and AP Research exam, and earn a score of 3 or higher on four additional AP exams of their choosing. Students typically take AT Seminar in their sophomore or junior year, followed by AT Research & Catalyst.

AT Research & Catalyst

ID: 48515
Grade: 11-12
Length: Year
Credit: Elective
Prerequisite: Semester I B or higher in AP Seminar; to take this course in 2018/19, B or higher in AT Seminar.

AT Research & Catalyst allows students to deeply explore an academic topic, problem, or issue of individual interest with the expectation of producing both a university level research paper and a meaningful Catalyst project. For example, students can dig deeper into a topic studied in an AP or AT course, work across academic areas on an interdisciplinary topic or study a new discipline of interest, perhaps one a student would like to study in college. The course begins with students developing a greater sense of self by generating a learning profile, a SMART goal, and a project framework. As they explore their interests, students design, plan, and conduct qualitative and/or quantitative research and choose a methodology to address a potential research question. Ultimately, students hone in on a driving question and work on an independent research project.

Students utilize the desired student learning outcomes (DSLOs) as they document their processes and curate their scholarly work in a portfolio. In addition, students will be guided to operationalize their personal networks in order to establish mentorships and other forms of experiential network-based learning (collaborative research studies, internships, etc.) The course culminates in an academic paper of approximately 5000 words, an oral defense presentation of their research, and an exhibition of their Catalyst project.

This course has fully adopted the AP Research curriculum, and therefore, students will be eligible to take the AP Research exam in preparation for earning the AP Capstone Diploma. The AT designation indicates a course is at university level, putting it at or above the level of a traditional Advanced Placement (AP) course. The course requires rigorous study and emphasizes in-depth research. Like an AP course, this course has a grade point weighting of 0.5 for the duration of the course.

What is the AP Capstone Diploma?

To receive the AP Capstone Diploma, students must successfully complete both AT Seminar and AT Research & Catalyst. In addition, they must earn a score of 3 or higher on both the AP Seminar and AP Research exam, and earn a score of 3 or higher on four additional AP exams of their choosing. Students typically take AT Seminar in their sophomore or junior year, followed by AT Research & Catalyst.

AT Performing Arts

ID: 46325 (Dance)
ID: 46326 (Music)
ID: 46327 (Theater)

Grade: 12
Length: Year
Credit: Visual/Performing Arts
Prerequisite: Completion of three courses in the performance discipline and completion of application process detailed below. Specific strands may also include course pre-requisites.

This course provides students with opportunities to create and engage with university-level performance experiences. Students working within one of the disciplines of Dance, Drama, Vocal or Instrumental Music will fulfill requirements specific to that discipline. These include: guided research, exploration of methodologies, development of a performance, and in depth reflection. The application process is as follows: a) students audition as per usual for higher level performance groups by March, b) upon passing the audition, students submit a written application, and c) applicants are vetted by a Performing Arts Teacher panel in April. All applicants must be rising seniors.

There are three strands within AT Performing Arts:

  1. The Dance strand is designed for the serious dancer who has had sufficient dance training and would like to study choreography and production aspects more intensely. Students will continue to be part of the Dance Performance class and the two semester production, but will also engage in guided research, exploration of methodologies, development of a performance, and in-depth reflection. This strand was collaboratively developed and endorsed by Cyrus Parker Jeannette, Dean of the College of the Arts, California State University at Long Beach in 2016.
  2. The Music strand is for serious music students. AT Music students will expand their group performance experience by performing as an individual and by deepening their skill as music analysts, theorists and historians. The strand was collaboratively developed and endorsed by Dr. Travis Cross from University of California Los Angeles in 2016.
  3. The Theater strand requires students to work collaboratively to create a piece of original theater and has a prerequisite of Theater Production. Students will assume positions of leadership in the ensemble: creators, designers, and directors, as well as performers. They will work in ensembles to examine and develop ideas to generate theatrical material for performance. AT Theater students must be enrolled in a theater course both semesters of their senior year. This strand was collaboratively developed and endorsed by Mark Charney, Associate Director of National Critics Institute, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center and Head of Theater and Dance at Texas Tech University in 2016.

The AT designation indicates a course is at university level, putting it at or above the level of a traditional AP course. The course requires rigorous study and emphasizes in-depth research. Like an AP course, this course has an additional grade point weighting of 0.5.

AT Courses in Quest

AT English: Research & Composition

ID: 48526
Grade: 12
Length: Year
Credit: English
Prerequisite: Completion of AP Seminar, AP Research, or AP Language and Composition. Semester I grade of A or higher in grade 11 English course, or an English teacher recommendation.

Beyond the requirements of the Quest program’s English: Research & Composition course, students wishing to earn Advanced Topic credit in English: Research & Composition will practice narrative, informative, and argumentative skills at a level that demonstrates in-depth application of said skills. One additional project will be proposed by the student per unit. This project will be self-selected, but must meet the skill requirements of the unit. Note: Quest students who completed AP Seminar and earned a score of 3 or better on the exam may choose to submit the thesis papers they produce in this course to the College Board for AP Research exam scoring. These students will be supported within Quest to follow the AP Research guidelines. To earn the AP Capstone Diploma, students must earn scores of 3 or higher on the AP Seminar and AP Research exams and on four additional AP exams.

AT Math: Data Analytics

ID: 48528
Grade: 12
Length: Year
Credit: Math
Prerequisite: Completion of Algebra 2/Trig with a B or higher, or teacher recommendation

Beyond the requirements of the Quest program’s Math: Data Analytics course, students wishing to earn Advanced Topic credit will individually be held to a higher standard of skill acquisition and will need to demonstrate a high level of data processing and analyzing skills. Students are required to collect, organize, represent, and analyze their own data through the use of statistical software or programming language. Students will also be defining their learning objectives and how they personally go beyond the requirements.

AT Science: Design Thinking

ID: 48530
Grade: 12
Length: Year
Credit: Science
Prerequisite: Completion of Chemistry with a B or higher, or completion of Physics with a B or higher, or science teacher recommendation.
Note: For potential college athletes, this course does not meet the NCAA Division I core course requirement for Science. See counselor for details.

Beyond the requirements of the Quest program’s Science: Design Thinking course, students wishing to earn Advanced Topic credit will be required to go above and beyond the college preparatory design thinking course requirements and demonstrate a higher level of rigor throughout the processes, vetting, production, application and reflection that occur over the course of the year.

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