The Arlington Central School District sends out a newsletter every now and again — oddly enough around budget season. This time it includes a piece titled “Arlington’s Investment Paying Off,” which discusses how additional guidance counselors have dropped the student to counselor ratio from 375:1 to 210:1.
Now, three years into the plan, our commitment to guidance services is clearly paying off. At its all-time high, the guidance counselor to student ratio was 375 to 1. Within the last two years, the counselor to student ratio has dropped to its current average of 210 to 1, a ratio similar to most successful suburban schools.
That’s an awful lot of guidance counselors! 210 to each student?! Wow.
OK, so bad English and math skills aside, what is the return on investment of adding these additional guidance counselors? Apparently, having more of them allows the students to meet with their counselors more often.
When guidance counselors were serving 300+ students from multiple grades, contact with students was infrequent and irregular with some students seeing their counselor only once or twice a year. Members of the Classes of 2010 and 2011 will meet with their guidance counselors five to six times this year.
Granted my high school experience was unlike Arlington’s — the Highland High School student population was, if I recall correctly, 172 souls from grades 7 through 12 — but meeting with one’s guidance counselor seems to me to be entirely unnecessary for most students.
What is it they do? How do we measure their effect? How do we determine whether or not an additional counselor is cost-effective? And without knowing that, how can we say that the investment is paying off?