A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Shortfall of Applicants Makes MRHS Academies Costlier

Reading between the lines of a recent Independent news release, it seems that the much-ballyhooed academies initiative at Matawan Regional High School is about 17% off the mark on projected growth in student interest for the upcoming school year. School administrators are pleased with the number of applications for biomedical studies, but they're not so happy to see that incoming students looked elsewhere in the county for established programs preparing them for careers in business and the performing arts.

For now administrators are blaming a lackluster recruitment effort and growing pains. It's unclear that there is sufficient evidence to support these or any other theories of why recruitment was low, nor is there evidence that proposed remedies will fix things next year. If we're going to run academies, I'm of course supportive of choosing only the most qualified students in order to maintain high program standards. I also believe our students will continue to be smart enough to pick the best programs around and that this freedom to choose will drive them to other schools if better prospects exist. We might very well be kidding ourselves if we think we can promote our business and arts academies over other offerings if they legitimately pale in comparison to existing programs. Wemust be honest about our offerings or we'll continue to pay dearly for vacant seats.

This fall's academy class sizes are either at the low end of an estimated participation range or actually below that anticipated range. And we all are painfully aware that class size is a major cost factor in education today. The bottom line is that a dearth of qualified applicants can make the academies program a costly proposition in years to come, whatever the cause.


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