Education leaders discuss strategies to combat learning loss

HONOLULU — On Friday, the state House Lower & Higher Education Committee discussed learning loss for public and charter schools statewide since the start of distance learning last year.

“Good first opening conversation,” said committee Chair Justin Woodson of Maui. “I still have questions on how learning loss is happening, population groups, the breakdown per island. But there is still lots to know, and learning loss is happening.”

State Department of Education Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto said in the student performance data, universal screeners are typically used to see where students are at the beginning of the year, monitor progress at mid-year, and assess progress towards the end of the year.

Kishimoto said teachers use the data to provide appropriate interventions.

In the first quarter of Hawai‘i’s 2020-21 public school year, from mid-August to early October, there were 12,288 students in elementary grdes who fell behind in their English language arts class, and 12,135 elementary students who fell behind in their math statewide.

Also, in middle schools across the state, the data said 8,056 students fell behind in their English language arts classes and 7,056 students fell behind their math class.

Kishimoto said she believes more can be done.

“My biggest fear is going back to the old normal,” Kishimoto said. “All of the old normal didn’t work for our kids. We have learned about new ways, and we need to start moving that into our normal. The data is spot-on. We got a lot of work to do to get our students moving in the right direction.”

Kishimoto also addressed some budget concerns, and said there is a budget proposal she will present at the state Board of Education meeting next week to allocate some funds from the COVID relief bill to help with tutoring programs for students across the state.

Woodson added that he was impressed that the DOE has a strategy to help students bounce back after falling behind their studies.

“Dr. Kishimoto mentioned they are going to offer one-to-one tutoring, a way where students can catch up,” Woodson said. “I’m encouraged that they included it in their plan.”

However, Corey Rosenlee, president of the Hawai‘i State Teachers Association, is still adamant about keeping students, teachers and staff safe first.

“It is unfortunate that there is learning loss this year, something fully expected considering the difficult situations created by the pandemic,” Rosenlee said.

“Everyone agrees that students learn best face-to-face because those in-person connections are important in the learning and relationship between students and teachers,” Rosenlee said. “Children are resilient and will recover. The priority right now has to be safety.”

Woodson closed by pointing out how some states started changing their education system into a high-performing structure, which helped their students perform better in their classes.

“In some states, they implemented high-performing structures,” Woodson said. “Where there are less instructional time frames and more time for the different subjects to collaborate. It’s a process. It’s important to have hope. Hawai‘i is a place of great possibility unlike anywhere else.”

He continued: “One thing that is unique about Hawai‘i is that we work together, we care for one another, we know each other, which gives me hope.”

  1. Susan January 17, 2021 1:46 pm Reply

    Hawaii ranks very bottom in all things academic and scholastic. We can thank the lazy, inept HI DOE, as well as the corrupt HSTA, for this. Nothing will ever change in our schools so long as you continue to let lazy government bureaucrats and interfering union leaders dictate what should be taught in our classrooms, and how. Give the power back to the teachers and the parents, and maybe just maybe Hawaii children will have a fighting chance of competing with graduates from other states.

  2. randy kansas January 17, 2021 2:16 pm Reply

    we spend more money per child, with our education system, than any other country in the world….Think about that…

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