Surveying education

LIHUE — Recent national surveys paint Hawai‘i’s educational system in different lights, with some stating Hawai‘i ranked as one of the smartest states in 2019 and others saying Hawai‘i’s schools were ranked at the bottom of the list for performance.

Some surveys are based on test scores and demographic data, like a report out of the job-search website Zippia that ranked Hawai‘i as one of the smartest states in America. Some are based on funding, academic achievement and enrollment, like a recent study out of the New York financial website 247wallst.com.

Surveys only tell part of the story. Those involved in Hawai‘i’s education system say there’s more to evalating education than what these surveys take into account.

State Department of Education Communication Director, Lindsay Chambers emphasised it’s important “that the metrics and methodology (of surveys) be credible, consistent and accurate.”

“Overall, we are encouraged by the gains we’ve seen recently in such areas as academic achievement by English learners, increases in students taking and passing AP (advanced-placement) exams, and increases in the number of students earning Early College credits while in high school, as well as bright spots at individual schools that have seen tremendous gains on our statewide performance assessments,” Chambers said.

Many factors play into Hawai‘i schools’ performance scores.

Kaua‘i parents said they believe Kaua‘i schools could benefit from listening to their concerns and making changes to support their children and help them succeed. Others say their schools are inspiring places where good learning is taking place.

Depending upon the school, children face different challenges. Arianna Medeiros, a first-grader, says she never has enough time to finish lunch.

Like many other students at her school, Medeiros brings home lunch most days of the week. Being rushed to play instead of enjoying her meals is a big concern for parent Laurie Medeiros. She is trying to figure out why they can’t eat longer than 15 minutes.

“One of the challenges is the lack of time the kids have to eat lunch. My daughter 80% of the time says ‘I didn’t have enough time to eat lunch,’” said Medeiros.

Arianna Medeiros describes her daily lunch experience: “The younger kids (preschool, kindergarten, first grade) go first, but get 15 minutes to eat. Then the older kids come in to eat while the younger ones get 15 minutes to play. But they got to leave to let the older kids eat.”

Laurie Medeiros asked her daughter if she is allowed to take paper plates outside to eat since they have 15 minutes to play. Her daughter said “only if it’s reward day when we get rewarded with ice pops.”

Laurie Medeiros goes on to express other concerns she has with her daughter’s school.

“Most times we get only a week (two weeks if we’re lucky) (of advanced notice) about upcoming events for the school. It’s hard as a working parent to give a request off (form) so late. Too last minute to have to find a replacement. It is hard,” she said.

Ruth Melchor is a mother of three who go to school on the North Shore. Her youngest attends Anahola Kamehameha Preschool, part of the private-school system.

“I love our kumu,” Melchor said. “Miya is my baby girl and also my last child, so having her being accepted was a blessing and curse. I wasn’t ready to let her go but the school and everyone there made me feel at ease.”

Morgan Callejo works at Kapa‘a Elementary, and her son, Brandon, is in the seventh grade at Kapa‘a Middle School. She says she works in a dynamic environment and, while she has a few concerns about the rise in school shooting threats, she’s confident in her coworkers.

“What I like about working in a school setting are the students and people I get to work with and meet every day,” Callejo said.

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Stephanie Shinno, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.

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