HAMILTON, NJ --  A district-wide to increase the number of students taking Advanced Placement (AP) exams within the Hamilton Township School District (HTSD) is paying off district officials announced Wednesday.

According to statistics released by the New Jersey Department of Education, HTSD has increased its advanced placement test participation by 191 percent since 2016. This represents the highest increase in Mercer County. 

Last year, approximately one in five Hamilton High School Students took at least one AP course and exam, schools officials said. Hamilton's growth now places the district in the top one percent in the number of exams taken statewide.  

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Since 2016, HTSD has added 13 additional AP courses.  Only three other New Jersey school districts added courses during the same time frame. 

District Superintendent Scott Rocco, Ed.D explained the growth as "a team effort involving administrators, faculty members, students, and support from the Hamilton Township Board of Education." 

Rocco further pointed to several factors contributing to the rising number of test takers.   The District has dedicated funding to AP class teachers to attend professional development programs yearly to keep the curriculum fresh and current with AP expectations.

Addictionaly, while in the past students who have qualified to take AP exams have often declined taking the test because of financial concerns, now, the District helps cover the cost of the exams for some students so that they make a serious commitment to the exam as well as the class. 

Finally, Dr. Rocco highlighted the efforts of the Curriculum and Instruction Department under Director Anthony Scotto who designed AP Potential Assemblies, in which Curriculum Supervisors and AP teachers made presentations to all three District high schools.  AP teachers now annually give an overview to student about courses to speak with students regarding the value of taking AP courses in preparation for college, encourage students to take AP classes and exams, and answer their questions. 

AP tests are scored on a scale of one to five with a score of three considered a "qualifying score" and a score of five is "extremely qualified."  HTSD has seen a 79 percent growth in the number of students scoring a three or higher which means a student may earn college credit for their course work.  

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