Hawai'i Schools Make Progress In Reforming Education

Honolulu – Federal and state education leaders discussed the direction of Hawai’i’s education system during a series of meetings over the last two days, noting that the collaboration to ensure success in the classroom is unprecedented.

Leaders involved in the discussions included representation from the private sector, the State Department of Education, the Board of Education, the Legislature, and the Executive Office.

“At long last, all the institutions of the State of Hawai’i are working together with common goals that will advance student learning and provide our children the opportunities they deserve,” Governor Neil Abercrombie said. “Out of the spotlight, every day, these public servants are working behind-the-scenes and today I believe we’ve proven to the representatives of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) that we are actively committed to transforming our educational system.”

The visit by U.S. DOE representatives, which concludes today, is a part of President Obama’s “Race to the Top” education reform programs, where team leaders from the U.S. DOE’s Implementation and Support Unit (ISU) travel to states that were awarded federal grants to help implement far-reaching reforms to improve student outcomes.  In August 2010, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced Hawai’i’s selection as a Race to the Top Phase 2 winner and the recipient of a $75 million grant to implement the state’s comprehensive reform blueprint. Hawai’i was one of the 11 states along with the District of Columbia to receive money in this grant competition last year.

The ISU met several times with state education leaders, including Governor Abercrombie and Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.  They also visited Maili Elementary School.

“As we move forward, ongoing collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education and other Race to the Top states will provide best practices that have been tested and valuable guidance,” Superintendent Matayoshi said.

Examples of progress on Hawai’i’s Race to the Top goals so far include:

  • Furnishing teachers with easily-accessible information about their students’ progress.
  • Providing principals with online access to information about their students for school planning, and to identify students in need of additional supports, such as those who are absent too often.
  • Supplying principals with data on teachers to ensure qualified teachers are assigned to appropriate subject areas, and to identify recruiting and training needs.

The U.S. DOE plans to share its program review findings for the 12 Race to the Top grantees this fall.

“Hawai’i’s unwavering commitment to implementing sustainable reforms to increase student achievement in our public schools is vital to our long-term success,” said Superintendent Matayoshi. “We are actively realigning resources around instruction and learning in the classroom and strengthening our system of support for educators to ensure that there is a highly effective teacher in every classroom and a highly effective principal leading every school.”

For more information about Hawai’i’s Race to the Top plan, visit http://hawaiidoereform.org.