Brick's High Schools Lag State in Advanced Placement Participation
Neighboring districts participation rate is higher, too
At BTHS, 8.3 percent of students completed at least one advanced placement test by the end of the 2010-11 school year, according to recently-released state data. At BMHS, 10.3 percent of students took at least one AP test. The percentages at both schools significantly lagged the state average of 22.9 percent of students who completed the tests.
Advanced Placement, or AP, courses are designed to mirror college courses and can be used for college credit at many schools nationwide. Students must complete a test to receive college credit for the course. The state calculated the percentages by dividing the number of students who took at least one AP test by the total number of students enrolled in grades 11 and 12 based on the official enrollment count.
In addition to schools statewide, Brick had a comparatively low percentage of students taking AP courses when compared to other schools in the Shore area. In Toms River, High School East had a 17.3 percent participation rate, High School North had a 14.5 percent participation rate and High School South had an 18.7 percent rate.
In Point Pleasant Borough, there was a 25.5 percent rate and at Southern Regional, 16.7 percent of students participated in the advanced classes.
A Patch survey of state data showed Brick had the second-lowest participation rate in the county, with Lakewood High School students participating at a 4.3 percent rate. BMHS had a higher participation rate than Lacey's 9.1 percent rate.
New Superintendent Walter Uszenski, who begins his job as schools chief today, said in a recent interview that one of his first tasks will be to meet with administrators and perform assessments of the district – then work to increase the rigor of courses at the high school level.
"We're going to make sure that the curriculum is aligned to the written, the taught and the tested areas all the way through," said Uszenski. "We're going to assess where we are, where we want to be and where we want to go."
In Spotswood, where he currently serves as superintendent, Uszenski said there are 20 AP classes offered, and many are taught by teachers who are paid a stipend to teach an extra class, rather than hiring extra staff and paying additional salaries.
Expanding AP course offerrings is one way to increase overall participation.
"If you have a teacher that is willing to teach an extra period, it's a big savings to the taxpayers and the board," Uszenski said at the time.