Kauai students in top 5

LIHUE — Kauai’s test results were in the top five of the statewide Hawaii Smarter Balanced Assessment scores recently released. 

That’s based on the percentage of students who met or exceeded the standards in English Language Arts and math. Kauai complex area’s scores were number four in English Language Arts, and number five in math.

Kauai superintendent Bill Arakaki said this is the first year of administering a new and more rigorous test implemented in the spring to meet higher expectations for college and career readiness for students.

“The results will serve as the baseline for future student achievements,” he said.

Statewide, 48 percent of students met or exceeded achievement standards in English Language Arts, 41 percent of overall students met or exceeded achievement standard in math.

In Kauai, 41 percent of students met or exceeded achievement standards in English Language Arts. Thirty-seven percent of students met or exceeded those standards in math.

Of the 15 schools on Kauai that administered the test, the highest-ranking school for English Language Arts was Koloa Elementary School, with 62 percent of its students meeting or exceeding the standards.

“(The key) is really for the kids to be able to process their learning and demonstrate it, so the teachers are able to formatively assess if they’ve gotten it or not,” said Koloa Elementary School Principal Linda Uyehara.

Uyehara said one of the strategies that worked for her school is providing resources for kids who need extra support and using learning consultants, especially in math and reading.

The lowest-ranking school on the island in English Language Arts was Kauai High School, with 28 percent of students meeting or exceeding the standards.

When it comes to math, Hanalei Elementary School took the top spot among Kauai schools with 63 percent of students exceeding or meeting standards. Waimea Canyon Middle School came in last with 20 percent of their students meeting or exceeding math standards.

Principals from schools islandwide said the new test was different from past exams and was difficult for students.

“These are baseline scores for us because it’s a very different test (than we’ve had before),” said Melissa Speetjens, principal at Waimea Middle School. “We need to move forward and we’ll get better.”

Speetjens said the school’s math department is working with a math consultant to help raise scores, as well as collaborating with other schools to create successful strategies.

“We’re always looking at how to increase student achievement so they can become college and career ready,” Speetjens said.

Arakaki said school administrators will be focusing on implementing strategies to increase test scores. Those strategies include things like ensuring teacher support and identifying students who need extra help.

“When we look at the essential elements implemented at higher performing schools, we find that they have sustainable systems that engage all students in rigorous and relevant learning opportunities,” Arakaki said. “Furthermore, all of this happens within a safe, positive learning environment.”

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