Superintendent Sinatra Discusses Guidance Counselor Ratios at Board Meeting

In a recent television interview, Bill Cosby, discussing the state of public schools in America, questioned the process by which small groups of guidance counselors handle large numbers of high school students. As covered in past posts, it is an issue that continues to concern Metuchen families and taxpayers.

Terri Sinatra, Superintendent of the Metuchen School district, addressed those concerns at the most recent Board of Education meeting by providing the ratios of various schools from Middlesex and Monmouth Counties. The table below illustrates the counseling ratios that Sinatra presented and what percentage of their graduating seniors attend 4-year colleges.  The guidance numbers were provided by Terri Sinatra; the other data was taken from the NJ Monthly 2008 rankings of high schools.
NJ Monthly              Rank School District District Factor Group * Students/   Counselors Ratio of Students to Counselors % Attending 4 year colleges




650/3** 275 to 1 63%




1394/7 199 to 1 94%




1359/5 272 to 1 83%




1200/5 240 to 1 88%


Highland Park


385/2 193 to 1 63%


Edison Twsp: JP Stevens only


2121/9 236 to 1 77%




563/2 282 to 1 81%


East Brunswick


2300/11 209 to 1 73%
* A socio economic ranking assigned by the state.

** MHS has two counselors and 1 Director of Guidance. Director carries 100 students & is not in ratio 

Advocacy groups such as Metuchen's Citizens for Quality Education hope that a lower ratio of counselors to students in the future could help ensure a higher percentage of graduating seniors go on to attend four-year institutions.


Maybe you should get some facts straight. There is a reason Metuchen was dubbed "the Brainy Borough" When we moved here 30+ years ago it was among the top ranked schools, considerably higher than Edison schools, including JP Stevens. Edison has risen in the ranks since it's Asian population growth. In may instances parents are more involved and seem to force a stricter study/work ethic. They expect a lot more from their children. And they seem to be getting it

Matt Miller has a great, new book - The Tyranny of Dead Ideas. It looks at business supported health care, retirement (and other topics) and how we cannot continue to sustain this system. It's not just the schools or government, it's all business.

The biggest expense to all concerns, public or private, is retirement and health care benefits. The vast majority of money is not spent on providing services, but in maintaining retirement and health benefits. The idea that the school district covers the cost of therapies and educational needs of special needs children is laughable. I say this as a parent of special needs children, educated out of dictrict at our own expense. I coould just as easily make the argument that the school district benefits because it uses my tax dollars without providing service to my children. Other special needs families I know of have large out of pocket costs that are not covered by either the school district or private insurance. And these costs are for traditional therapies, not some experimental and unproven balony. Don't blame special needs kids and families for the inefficiencies and costs of public education. The education "business" is in trouble like any other business today. They have promised retirement pay and health benefits that they cannot support.

You should be ashamed of yourself and know your facts. A huge contributing factor is special needs costs- they are skyrocketing because of #s of kids needing it as well as cost per child, benefits which are hurting all companies. If you don't raise your children and teach them properly you will have lots of problems on the streets.

Teachers were admired when their salaries were lower and their salaries, benefits and pensions weren't responsible for raising our property taxes by alarming percentages every year.

There was a time when teaching was admired; now we just disparage it in favor of "corporate success" whatever that means. I really learned a great deal from most of my teachers.

In the corporate world in this economy, keeping your job is considered reward enough.

Maybe, but 2 of 32 is an extreme loss regardless of circumstances.

You're assuming they all stopped teching because it was "hard." Maybe they just didn't like it. Maybe they moved. The possibilities are endless.

When I became a teacher via alternate route nine years ago, I was in a class with 32 other individuals. During our first year teaching we were required to take education courses at night to meet alternate route requirements. Two years later, only 2 of the original 33 were still teaching. Do you still think it's an "easy" job?

I would be all for getting rid of underperforming teachers. That's much different than what the poster with the chart was saying. He was undervaluing the whole profession.

Teachers are like any other group of employees, some are good, some are bad. There probably should a mechanism to remove the poor teachers from the system. Conversely there should also be something in place to reward the good teachers. A good teacher makes an immeasurable difference in our children's education.

Good teachers are a jewel. If you are a good teacher, why do you need tenure? Quite a few companies routinely lay off the bottom 10% of their employees and replace them with new people, thus improving overall every year.

Of course, we would never consider doing something like that. Sure, there are really great dedicated teachers, but students, parents and especially teachers know that there are those that just punch the clock and became a teacher so they could have summers off.

What is the problem with getting rid of those teachers? I think good teachers would encourage that, don't you? Why do you let those bad apples hurt your image?

So it's back to the my previous comment - thinking out of the box for solutions, continuous improvement, curriculum. Don't forget we spent hours and hours discussing the SRO last year, safety etc. - how much did we spend discussing what's being taught- where our scores are- input from parents on what's being taught etc. Kids not able to move between levels, concerns about what our kids are learning. We are now going to have a Good to Great discussion coming up- which hopefully will get the district discussing - but please remember that the "Good to Great" corporate initiatives has been dropped in many corporations- but at least we are thinking about it. But anyone who is bashing teachers as a whole should think twice!!- it's not a easy job and once they are done teaching they have to deal with us.

The person that made the chart is being an idiot. If teaching was so easy they would be doing it. Plus teachers do important work, most likely more important than whatever they do.

I don't think our issues in Metuchen are our teachers, every teacher my children have had has been great. I'm sure there are a few teachers that are not the best, but that's the case everywhere. I think it's our "management". They seem to be reactive instead of proactive.

Say what you want about the NJ Monthly rankings, they are all that outsiders have to evaluate our schools. The superintendent and the board should always be looking at how to improve in them.

You obviously do not work in Metuchen.

To the individual who made the "chart" comparing teaching to other jobs. Unless you have worked as a teacher, and your chart reveals you likely have not, you do not know that teachers do NOT work a six hour day.

I arrive at school at 6:45 in the morning. I am required to be there at 7:00 for morning meeting. Yes, every day of the week. I leave school between 4 and 6 pm every day, depending on my tutoring schedule and coaching responsibilities (not optional in my school; all teachers must advise or coach at least two activities throughout the year). Without even considering the 2-3 hours a take home work PER NIGHT, this is a nine hour workday. I do NOT have a prep period this year nor do I have a lunch period; I am required to eat with my 7th grade students, at their table. Therefore, I work from 7:00 am meeting thru to at least 4:00 pm. If I need to visit the bathroom, I must call our office for someone to come into my class for five minutes.

You should know what you are talking about before your post a silly chart like that one; it is BLATANTLY INCORRECT.

If teaching is such a great gig why don't you do it?

teachers = 180 six hour work days

job security and health benefits for life, guaranteed pension

private sector = 240 eight hour work days (if you're lucky enough to work only 8 hours)

no job security, no lifetime benefits, have to fund your own 401(k)

180 x 6 = 1080

240 x 8 = 1920

1080 / 1920 = 56.25%. Pretty close to half the hours the private sector works.

And yes, people in the private sector have to take work home, too.

To all the teachers- what do you think the problem is? Is it the curriculum? lack of resources? parents? kids? I agree it is not the teachers.One thing I do know that I have seen is that we do not challenge many of our average kids. Don't get me wrong - there are some children for whom the work is challenging but there are quite a few kids in these classes that are able to coast.

I'm a teacher and I never worked "half a year" as posted above. Also, my district conduct two written performance evaluations per year, we are constantly reminded by parents and administrators alike "who we work for" and in no uncertain terms. That's fine; I work hard to be an effective teacher. I would love to see all parents and would-be/armchair education advisors teach for a year or two before dishing out the criticism. Just because one has been a student does not mean one has any idea what it takes to be a good teacher.

As I said in my post, I CHOSE to leave for a profession that is far more rewarding. For me, my work life was never about money. I became a teacher to make a difference in the lives of others. I would not go back to a corporate life for double my salary because I know that this is my true vocation.

This discussion has made me realize that I need to speak up in regards one teacher that has taught my kid because if noone says anything we are also promoting the "social promotion" of teachers and not just students. Why don't teachers have 360 reviews like we have in the corporate world? And for sure our teachers and administrators do not all act like we are thier bosses, like I treat my boss. But conversely, I have had contact with teachers and administrators in Metuchen which I very highly regard! are professional educators and have been an inspiration! You can tell based on your child's attitude and performance when you have one of these.

Sure, there are good teachers and there are bad teachers. Be real, you know that it is very difficult to remove a bad teacher.

And add in your benefits, healthcare and the like, I doubt you took too much of a pay cut.

One thing to remember, taxpayers pay your salary, they are in effect, your boss. Do the schools act that way? Are they responsive?

I have viewed the teachers my children have had. There were some good ones, there were also some that were just there for the half year of work and the paycheck. And yes, here in Metuchen.

If your corporate life was so comfortable, why did you leave?

As a teacher, it irks me to hear people make sweeping generalizations, such as those above regarding teachers not staying after school to help, or charging money to tutor. I am especially offended by those who say that it is impossible to get rid of "bad" teachers. Get specific or get lost---generalizations do little good in any situations.

I left a very comfortable corporate life to become a teacher and saw my work hours increase dramatically. I leave for school at 6:15 in the morning and rarely arrive home before 6:00 pm and I bring work home every night. I put in an average of two hours after school helping students and would not dream of charging money for doing so. I grade papers every weeknight and Saturdays. I work through the summer because I can't afford not to (I took a 13k pay cut years ago to become a teacher). I CHOOSE to do this job. I do it because it is important to me---period. I know very few "bad" teachers but many, many wonderful (rarely recognized) teachers.

In fairness, let's stop slapping labels on teachers and blaming the all school troubles on them. It takes more than a teacher to raise a child.

I think its a luxury to have extra books, if you want to unburden your kid, drive them to school and carry their books for them.

Taxpayers should not be paying for it, no matter how much money it costs.

Regarding the text books - I will weigh my kids backpack with the textbooks they already carry and then you can decide whether this is excessive or not and whether we are discussing luxury or not. It could take a me a bit. Remember wheeled backpacks can't be used at Edgar. I know I have already injured my back carrying my laptop and paperwork to work and back as so have a wheeled briefcase and I am not a weak person. Does anyone know how much money this is saving us anyway?

The comment about more student contact time was aimed at the person who seemed to be suggesting that the school day should be longer. I don't see many teachers who stay after school to help their kids. But I have seen teachers who charge $30 an hour to tutor kids in their school, which somehow doesn't seem kosher.

Adding additional police headcount going into the teeth of a recession.

Have you seen where the money is going in the stimulus package? Seems the Federal Govt. thinks its a good idea to spend a lot of money on itself in the teeth of a recession.

And yes, we can afford textbooks, but do we need 2 sets? Lets see, I carry my laptop home from work every day, think I could get my company to give me another one so I won't have to do that (and yes, my walk is much farther than the school kids.)

That being said, the time was not right for the SRO either.

One thing I wonder about is the amount of work that gets done in the class room vs. the amount of work that is expected to be done at home. Seems to me in the past the majority of the work happened in school, no less so.

And as for teachers that do the minimum, do you know how difficult it is to get rid of a poor performance teacher? And yes, Metuchen has those too. Most moms know who the good ones are.

Right on, that SRO proposal was one of the stupidest ideas to come around in along time. Adding additional police headcount going into the teeth of a recession. Having a cop in the school flirting with the girls and checking out their assets and maybe occasionally busting a kid with a doobie. Yet we cant afford textbooks. Shows what happens when we let folks try to push their agenda, rather than do what is right.

Where did you get that I said that. Are you telling me that teachers in Metuchen only do the minimum- if so they should go. How about the PTO hosting something - or how about certified volunteers, or professionals coming and donating some of their time. Just brainstorming a couple of ideas. But spending extra right now is not the right thing to do- put in the future financial plan as a goal perhaps, but not right now.

You want to get the teachers to agree to more student contact time? Good luck with that.

If we are talking about not adding more costs at this time we need to remember that even last year the district was considering adding a $100,000/year SRO(safety resource officer) and now we are hesitating about spending enough money to have a second set of books for our middle school kids not to carry even heavier backpacks, and no longer sending notices in elementary school, disenfranchising our poorer families and discriminating against families without internet access. I don't think we should be adding any costs in this economic climate. The numbers of kids attending college needs to be addressed differently.

1. Stop social promotion.

2. Stop caving to pushy/manipulative parents, especially those who refuse testing their children for possible learning differences or conversely who insist on special accommodations where not special need exists.

3. Insist that kids work, and work hard.

4. Stop social promotion

5. Stop social promotion

6. Stop social promotion

Did you know that Metuchen has THE SHORTEST school day out of ALL I districts in the state of NJ? Almost 45 minutes less than the AVERAGE. 1 Hour and 10 minutes shorter than Cranford. 1 Hour and 13 minutes shorter than Verona. Instructional time is better but still BELOW average. 36 more minutes in Cranford and 54 minutes less than Verona.

You want our kids to do better? Work them harder and teach them more, don't hire more people to hold their hands.

Middlesex Science Academy is not a private school.

Having kids going to private schools helps those other districts financially. Their parents are still paying the outrageous property taxes, but there are fewer kids in the public schools, so more can be spent on each student that is there.

Spend per student? Do we really want to go there?

Doesn't Newark have a higher spend per student than Metuchen? Do we want their results?

In other words, the schools in communities that are scoring better than Metuchen public schools have serious competition.

You can't point to a private school and say that is why Metuchen's scores are depressed. Montclair, Princeton, Westfield, Short Hills are all communities that have strong competition from academically challanging private prep schools. The very best students in Montclair, Westfield, Princeton are not going to public schools at all, they are going to private schools, yet those communities perpetually outrank us. What these other public schools do offer that is different and better than Metuchen is more computers in the classrooms, more college prep and advanced placement classes, and better testing scores.

All through the mid 70s, 80s, and 90s JP Stevens had much higher SAT scores and of kids attending 4 year college.

So can't blame the Science Academy, and not the Asians fault. Back in the 80s the Metuchen people used to say it was because North Edison and JP Stevens has so many Jewish students, now they say its due to the Asians.

I think size and resources had more to do with it than anything else. Teachers were paid higher, more programs could be offered, and spend per student was higher.

Some of the parents at JPS do not think their school is any better than Metuchen. They think it is the kids whose parents send them to extra classes and tutoring who are raising the JPS scores, and not anything that is happening at JPS itself.

In a small district like Metuchen, average SAT scores can be affected by the loss of a few of the top students. How many years has the County Science Academy been around? How many kids from Metuchen go to that school? Those kids used to be included in the Metuchen numbers in the past.

Metuchen High School was ranked #27 by New Jersey Monthly Magazine in 1998. In 2002, MHS fell off the magazine's 75 best high schools list for the first time. MHS came back on the list in 2006 at #56.

JPS has always been a good school. I'm not sure if they ranked better than MHS did in 1998. When I moved here in 1991, NJ Monthly did not rank the schools, but JPS had a fine reputation as did Metuchen. My family came to NJ looking for good schools. We chose Metuchen over North Edison because of its schools' reputation and the benefits of a small district.

We posted a story in November that contained the NJ Monthly 2008 rankings. It shows 2006 results as well and in 2006 Metuchen was ranked higher than JPS:

I think you are wrong. JP Stevens has always been ranked higher than Metuchen High. At least for the past 37 years. I'll put money on that.

And overall I think Edison has an edge looking at all schools, not just High Schools.

I will dig in and find what i can to validate.

We had the magazine, it was one of the reasons we moved here. It was also in information that Principal Novak handed out at Board of Ed meeting earlier this year. The old results don't seemed to be that easy to find online.

Also, Metuchen has historically had better schools than Edison. It's only recently that JP Stevens has jumped in the rankings.

I find it hard to believe Metuchen schools were in the top 30 ten years ago. Maybe Edison. Any Data to back up that claim?

So 95% of kids intended to go to college. Sounds good. Not everyone needs to go to college. A college degree is not a guarantee of a job. Neither is a graduate school degree.

Novak was a history teacher and track coach, not a gym teacher.

Just saw this on The school report cards. It shows the whole picture where the students go after graduation. I still do not think this is a good time to be adding overhead to the school budget. Based on the chart above it shows me that that position would be overhead in this ecomonic climate.

Intended Pursuits Class of 2008
Four-year College/University 74.0%
Two-year College 20.8%
Military 1.3%
Employment 2.6%
Undecided 0.6%
Other 0.6%

Here's a crazy idea....ask the kids. Do a exit interview on what they liked and disliked. Ask them what would help them get into or choose to go to college. Plus start the counseling process in freshmen year so these kids understand what they are working towards,sometimes by junior year sometimes it's too late.

What's the ratio of students to the Superintendents in these schools? If my math is correct our School czar is getting about $90 per student that she oversees, Milburn's Superintendent gets about $55 per student with much better results. Either someone needs a raise or the other a pay cut. Our school's results are unacceptable for the taxes that we all pay.

Yes, there are parents that put in the extra time with their kids on their education, and I would imagine that their kids make up a large chunk of those 63% college attendees.

Lets make sure we are getting good value from the money the school gets already before we start spending even more money. How many more football fields can they build?

Did we suddenly get more students? Why wasn't this thought of when the money was spent a few years ago?

I think it's fair to put the blame on the schools when you look at where they have fallen from. When we moved here 10+ years ago, the Metuchen schools were ranked around 30th in the state. Now we are barely in the top 100. Is it more likely that over that period of time the parents care less than they did 10 years ago? Or is it more likely the system?

The issue I see with the schools, and with a lot of Metuchen, is the inability to change the way we do things. So much is done because that's the way it's always been done. I think the school system has done the best it can, but it's time for a change. Maybe a 60 year old ex-gym teacher is not the best Principal anymore. Maybe the number of guidance counselors needed 10 years ago isn't enough anymore.

No, but we TRUST our schools to teach our children how important education and to enjoy learning. If only 63% of students from a middle-middle upper class town are going to a 4 year college, there is a problem. These are the parents that spend extra time and money on tutors and sat classes. I think most Metuchen parents are doing their part. We shouldn't have numbers that are close to inner city schools.

So we just turn everything over to the school? Where is parent responsibility? Why do we continue, over and over again, to ask government to take care of us? Where did the American spirit go? Where did personal responsibility go?

Our kids are not going to college, so blame the high school? Hire someone else?

People need to look themselves in the mirror, stop blaming others and take responsibility for what they do. Your kids don't go to college and you wanted them to? Guess what, its not the high school's fault, its not GWB's fault, its not Obama's fault, take a good look in that mirror.

wow...63%. At that rate no one will be able to sell a house. Really, who is going to move here with those numbers? Forget a counselor, invest in some more shop teachers.

It's not the school but the parent(s)who encourage their kids to seek a college degree. It is very easy to play the blame game and armchair quarterback educational statistics to further one's cause.

You are dealing with kids and families. There are so many variables that go into this that it is unfair as well as naive to try to make some correlation between the two. I could bet that the children whose parents serve on the Quality Education Commission will all go to college.

The post was merely to disseminate the information that the Superintendant discussed at the Board of Education meeting, as provided to us by Terri Sinatra herself. We're excited to see that they have prompted such lively debates about what's best for our children in the district. Keep the conversation going with some constructive ideas about what else can help our students.

prpoerty taxes way to high and most goes to education.How much more can we spend?

I understand that we have a push to add a counselor but what I am asking myself is why do I live here? I keep thinking we have something special -- we don't have anything special at 63% or even 80%. I was brought up in a place where 99% went to college either 2 or 4 year. No one was telling kids to go to beauty school, even the kids in the remedial classes were aiming to go to college. Based on the comment above from one recent student, we do need more counselors now than when I went to school 20 years ago. I met with my counselor twice a year – wow, unheard of around here.

What would our kids achieve if someone was guiding them more than twice a year through four years of high school?

But let’s not forget that we probably have more than one problem. We need to figure out our curriculum! Everything I hear points to that -- the kids at the top are doing great and the kids at the bottom are getting their extra help. but the kids in the middle are getting lost. In 3rd grade we start telling kids “you’re average, low, high.” If you’re placed in average, and no matter how much parents complain -- it takes a year maybe 2 to get them put in high. Since when do we assume more kids are average than high because of the number of kids exceeds the places in high? We need to get educators to think out of the box and not stay boxed in to what we have always done. I hear kids in average reading at Edgar in 8th doing the same work as the high kids at Campbell. We need to make sure our average students are getting an above-average education -- and so far I have not seen that being the exception, not the rule.

So I guess what I have deduced myself is that we need more help not only with counseling but also in curriculum because that's where we are failing across the board.

If you really want to make a difference with the kids, reach out to the young adult alumni. They would have a better grasp on what kids are looking for and going through in todays world. Bring in some successful recent college grads, make it a "Counseling Night" once a month. No offensive but what real world advice can a high school counselor that has been out of school for twenty years give our kids?? Don't make the same mistakes I made??

I wonder what the pay ratio is per student for other districts compared to our Superintendant??Whith the amount we are paying her for the small number of students we have, she should be helping out with the counseling herself. It's time for a change at the top.

Metuchen Matters, thank you for covering the issue of guidance at MHS and for getting people to think and talk about it!

If we’re talking about student/counselor ratios, we need to compare apples to apples. Millburn High School does have 7 counselors, but in addition, there is a full-time director of guidance. Cranford does has 5 counselors but also an additional supervisor. So if we look closely, these schools have more professional support than one would notice at first glance. According to the school’s website, Princeton High School has 6 counselors (not 5) for a ratio of 1/226, but they also have a college advisor (reducing that ratio further) and a full-time supervisor. Verona, with about 65 fewer students than MHS, has 2 guidance counselors but also an Assistant Principal who carries a number of students, bringing Verona’s ratio down to about 1/225. Without a doubt though, even when looking at the entire list of I districts, Metuchen has one of the very highest counselor/student ratios, and there are many GH districts with lower ratios as well.

While it is an anomaly that 63% of the MHS Class of 2007 went on to a 4-year college, the fact is that each year MHS sends only about 70-75% of its student body to a 4 year college which is one of the lowest percentages among I districts and even lower than a number of GH districts. It makes sense that the more contact time a counselor has with his students means more time spent getting to know students, helping them find colleges that are a good fit and showing families how merit money and financial aid can afford more students the opportunity to attend a 4-year college.

In the end, the business of a school district is to educate its students and to see that all of them are prepared to be productive members of society. Metuchenites expect that Metuchen’s kids should have the same edge that kids from similar districts are given so that they can matriculate at a 4-year college and earn a degree that will prepare them for surviving in a 21st century economy. Hiring an additional guidance counselor would bring our counselor/student ratio down to about 1/200. It seems like good economic sense for today (when it is unthinkable for many folks to rely on private services to enhance college applications) to invest in an additional guidance counselor and in the future of all Metuchen students.

Presently, the next year’s school budget is being discussed at Board of Education meetings. If you can understand the benefits that hiring a guidance counselor will bring to Metuchen students and to the town’s property values when more students attend a 4-year college, then please show your support by coming to the next BOE meeting (Tuesday night, February 10 @ 8 PM in the high school cafeteria) when curriculum and personnel at MHS will be presented. Let’s understand the numbers and the dollars that a counselor will cost each taxpayer. A counselor is a good idea. It may turn out, when other factors are figured in like retirements, that it will cost very little. In the end, hiring a counselor can benefit many; if it's doable, it will be money well spent.
--Kathy Liss, CQE President

So, do we know the percentage of MHS graduates that went to 2 year schools?
WAKE UP and look at our numbers. Last year we dropped down to #86 in the state.
For the school taxes we pay, our numbers should be much higher. What are we paying for? Excessive health benefits...cell phones...what other perks?

You need to look at the % of kids who went to both two and four year schools. Why? Because there is a State program where you can go to Middlesex for 2 years and then transfer to Rutgers for the other 2 years, and Rutgers is required to take all your MCC credits. So many of the kids who go to two year schools straight out of HS do end up with four year degrees.

Sure, fire the coach cause the players lost the game. Maybe we had a bunch of stupid kids in last years class? Hey, the world needs ditch diggers too. That is one job that can't get outsourced to India.

Parents that are focused on education produce good students, the teachers are just there to provide the opportunity, if their class is full of fatheads, the best teacher in the world won't have much of an effect.

Maybe we need a new principal!
Time to retire Mr. Novak.

So if we have 80% of students going to a 4 year school 9 out of 10 years and one year we have 63% you want to invest tens of thousands of dollars in another guidance counselor? It makes no sense and the data doesn't support the cause. I do believe it is possible to have a class that is just "off". You'll never find just one reason, it's probably a whole host of things and as such there isn't a single bullet answer. I find the proposal being somewhat based on our socio-economic factor as one of the weakest foundational arguements being made. "All the other rich towns are doing it" sounds so whiny. "But Mom all the girls are getting BMWs for their birthday" Give it up. If you want to invest in something spend it on continuing to improve technology and hire more teachers with modern skills. Maybe invest in an early retirement effort so that the BOE can hire 2 new teachers for the price of 1 with 30 years on the job and no desire to learn new things.

When in kindergarten, my daughter was evaluated by the child study team because she was having a hard time with letter recognition. They told me not to worry - that some kids were just destined for beauty or trade school! She was 5 years old at the time. Do they get a commission from some beauty school in the area?

In my four years at MHS I spoke to my guidance counselor twice. Once when I went for help with changing my schedule freshman year; then again as a junior, when he "kindly" suggested I consider going to beauty school!??? I did not take his advice and now have a graduate degree in my field.

I wouldn't write it off as an anomaly. Sure it is one bad year, but if we don't look at what happened it might happen again. Principal Novak had no idea why the numbers dropped. He suggested money, but that didn't really make sense. It would have had to have been an economic crisis that only Metuchen resodents experienced, because the rest of the state was fine that year. Now if this year you said it was economic I'd believe you.

I agree teachers are more important. However, we'd have to hire a lot of teachers to really impact class size. One guidance counselor can have effect a much larger number of students.

So does that mean that our superintendent used this 63% number as a scare tactic for getting more money?

Seems to me that good teaching, not good counseling will get more kids into college.

63% is a data anomaly. Go look at the data provided by Prinicipal Novak. 63% is very far from the norm. People are freaking out over one bad year and not paying attention to the trends. You'll find we are more in line with those other towns than this data shows.

Forget about the ratios. It looks like more attention from the entire school system is needed for the borderline students who lack the confidence or perhaps know how to get into a four year school.

But Highland Park has a lower district factor group and we know that family income and educational history have a lot to do with going to college. We should be more aligned with Verona or Cranford and we're not. Counselors might be one important issue but there is obviously a lot more going on.

The % that go to a 4 year college is PATHETIC!!! I see a much larger problem here. Of the 37% left how many are attending 2 year colleges and then moving to 4 year colleges, and how many are not attending college at all?

Yet the school with the lowest ratio (Highland Park) has the lowest percent of grads going to college (well, they are tied with us.)

I have a feeling that parents are much more of a factor in determining if a kid goes to college than guidance counselors.


"Cranford has more students per counselor per ratio, yet they have 88% of their students going to college."

"Maybe guidance counselors are not the problem here!"

Nail on the head

The ratios are on the same level accross the board here (with the exception of Highland Park). If the ratio .4% or .3% is that making the difference here? Cranford has more students per counselor per ratio, yet they have 88% of their students going to college. Maybe guidance counselors are not the problem here!

63% of MHS graduates attend 4 year colleges? That's PATHETIC considering the school taxes we pay.
Do the guidance counselors think college is important?

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