Schools stuck in the middle

The state of Hawaii was given a C grade, 73.8 points out of 100, in terms of its overall education performance, according to a recent study.

Online publication Education Week ranked Hawaii 25th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in areas such as a student’s chance for success, K-12 achievement, early foundations, adult outcomes, status change and equity.

The nation as a whole earned a C grade as well, according to the report.

“Hawaii’s C grade certainly isn’t terrible, but also needs room for improvement. The score is virtually unchanged from a year ago; we don’t see much change in Hawaii,” said Sterling Lloyd, assistant director of the Education Research Center at Education Week.

The report is based on federal data, with a focus on standardized testing.

“Hawaii ranks 43rd in the nation for fourth-graders proficient in reading and 34th in the nation for eighth-graders proficient in math, which are large chunks of the grading,” Lloyd told The Garden Island.

The data is aggregated state-by-state, so the results aren’t broken down by each island. But Complex-Area Superintendent Bill Arakaki believes the Garden Isle is continuously improving, slowly but surely.

“I think all of our schools are in different places and are working very hard, and continue to work, as in working to improve in different areas of proficiency,” he said.

While the state’s average scores are varied based on the report, three Kauai high schools (Kapaa, Kauai and Waimea) have shown they are keeping pace and even exceeding state averages in proficiency and college preparedness.

But as whole, the state has been mediocre.

Hawaii earned a C-plus in the “Chance for Success” category in the study, ranking 27th. In the “K-12 Achievement Index,” Hawaii placed 32nd with a grade of D-plus.

In other areas, Hawaii fared better.

Its highest grade was a B-plus for “Early Foundations,” for which it was ranked 20th.

For “Equity,” it earned a B with a score of 85.2.

For “Adult Outcomes,” based on postsecondary education attainment and workforce indicators, Hawaii received a B-minus, which ranked 13th in the nation.

A C in the “Change” category, which examined a state’s improvement over time, ranked Hawaii eighth in the nation.

Hawaii struggled in mightily in the final category.

The state received an F in “Status,” which is the current status of its educational system, and ranked 42nd in the nation.

“The area where the state really struggled was impact academic achievement, measured by standardized tests. The F grade is basically because of those standardized test scores in math and reading,” Lloyd said. “Hawaii just doesn’t fare well on those tests.”

Standardized testing is a hot topic in the DOE, especially with the new Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA) being implemented next school year.

But Arakaki and Lisa Mireles, school renewal specialist, believe Kauai will be ready for the challenges ahead and will continue to be the exception when it comes to being compared to the rest of the state.

“We’re always looking at our achievement rates. Last year, I think every secondary school improved and a lot of elementary schools improved in a lot of areas, too,” Mireles said. “I’m excited about the progress that our complex has made in such a short amount of time.”


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