Archive for April, 2010

CQE’s Advocacy in Recent Years

Monday, April 5th, 2010

CQE’s advocacy efforts are based on educational research as well as on best practices of highly regarded school districts.

Since 2006, Citizens for Quality Education has been working to enhance guidance services in the Metuchen school district.  In October 2007, the organization began urging the Board of Education and the Administration at their public meetings to hire an additional guidance counselor at Metuchen High School so that the counselor/student ratio could approach a more manageable workload than the 1 counselor to 275 student ratio would allow. Today the district is presently in the process of hiring an additional counselor, which will bring the counselor/ student ratio closer to 1/200 and which will afford parents and students more necessary contact time to discuss course selection, the college search and fit, and financial aid and merit money. The anticipated counselor/student ratio at MHS will be more in line with other I-Districts, where the ratio is between 1/150 and 1/200.

Among the many guidance concerns CQE made public in 2006 was the need for guidance services to begin focusing on college readiness as early as the middle school years.  In 2005 ACT (a not-for-profit education and workforce think tank) published its report College Readiness Begins in Middle School which outlines four recommendations:  1) College readiness should begin in the middle school.  2) Schools should explain to students and their parents the effects of taking a challenging curriculum on their future educational, career, and income options.  3) Schools should use multiple sources of information, including standardized assessments, to help inform students and their parents of the students’ progress toward college readiness. and 4) Schools should work with families to calculate costs and develop a plan to meet these costs.

Throughout our over 20-year history, Citizens for Quality Education has advocated for a rigorous curriculum so that each student at every academic level could be equally challenged.  But in 2006, CQE began urging that more students be encouraged by the school and by their parents to take honors and Advanced Placement courses and that more students in AP classes take the Advanced Placement tests. Indeed our advocacy is paying off—the district has seen AP participation increase from 15.4% in 2005 when the average I-district had 27.6% participation to 26.7% in 2008 when the average I-district had 31.9% participation.  CQE believes that there is much more work to be done to ensure that all students are challenged. In particular, increasing the rigor of the regular non-honors classes is necessary so that all MHS graduates are prepared for the rigors of college work.

Since September 2007, CQE has also been advocating for the district to improve its 4-year college rate.  The Metuchen High School Class of 2007 sent 63 % of its graduates onto a 4-year college, the Class of 2008 sent 74%, and the Class of 2009 sent 66%. In comparison, on average, other I-districts regularly send 80% of their graduates directly on to a 4-year college. While the organization realizes that a bachelor’s degree is worth the same whether it is begun at a community college or at a 4-year college, the concern is that statistically many more students do not complete a degree when it is started at a 2-year college. “39% of students at community colleges who intended to pursue bachelor’s degrees left without completing a degree or certificate program. 17% of students at four year [schools]. . . left without completing a degree” (Breakthrough Collaborative, 2009).

You can support us in our advocacy efforts by attending CQE meetings and Board of Education meetings.  Please Join Metuchen CQE or renew your membership to stay informed of the issues. Explore our Website to see all that the organization has to offer.

The works below are some of the sources that have informed this article and the organization’s opinions, and which have helped to focus our advocacy efforts.  Please see other important articles at “Supporting Literature” on the right sidebar of our Website.

Breakthrough Collaborative.  Middle School: The Fork in the Road to College. January 2010. http://btresearch.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/middle-grades-the-fork-in-the-road-to-college/

Wimberly, George L. and Richard J. Noeth.  College Readiness Begins in Middle School.  ACT Policy Report.  2005. http://www.act.org/research/policymakers/pdf/CollegeReadiness.pdf

Breakthrough Collaborative.  Reality Check:  Making Sure Your High School Students Are Adequately Prepared for College. October 2009.   http://btresearch.wordpress.com/2009/11/05/making-sure-your-high-school-students-are-adequately-prepared-for-college/

Rigor at Risk: Reaffirming Quality in the High School Core Curriculum. ACT 2007 Executive Summary. http://www.act.org/research/policymakers/pdf/rigor_summary.pdf

“Powerhouse School District Reaches Beyond the Elite: Port Washington High School Focuses on Average Student.” New York Times. (Feb.6, 2009) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/06/nyregion/06middle.html

Breakthrough Collaborative.  Breakthrough White Paper:  Four Year Colleges vs. Community Colleges. 2009. http://btresearch.wordpress.com/2009/01/16/whats-the-best-path-4-year-vs-2-year-colleges/