HONOLULU - The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) today announced it secured a one-year waiver from the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) allowing Hawaiian Language Immersion Program (HLIP) students to take a specialized assessment in the 2014-15 school year in lieu of the state’s English language arts and math assessments.
“This waiver sets a precedent for our Hawaiian Language education efforts,” stated Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We’ve been working hard to transform education in Hawaii and Hawaiian Education is no exception. It took collective vision, collaboration, and a lot of work to reach this point. I want to thank the many stakeholders who supported the department in shaping a better future for our Hawaiian Immersion students.”
The DOE, in partnership with the University of Hawaii-Manoa (UHM), developed a field test for HLIP students that measures progress toward mastery of academic standards on par with the Smarter Balanced Assessment given in the English language. The field test in language arts and math for students in grades 3 and 4 enrolled in Ka Papahana Kaiapuni (Hawaiian language immersion) schools will be held this spring. Superintendent Matayoshi sent a letter in January to the USDOE requesting a "double testing" waiver that would allow students taking the field test to forego the statewide assessment, Smarter Balanced, which is administered to students in grades 3-8 and 11.
The USDOE response earlier this month grants the waiver to the DOE on the condition of a number of assurances that meet obligations regarding students who take the Smarter Balanced Assessments. This means that for spring 2015, students in Grades 3 and 4 will be required to take only one test per subject area. Therefore, Kaiapuni students in Grades 3 and 4 who take the Hawaiian language arts and math field test will not have to also take the Smarter Balanced Assessments.
Many Kaiapuni parents have chosen to “opt out”of the English language arts statewide assessment. When students opt out, it has detrimental effects on the school’s Strive HI results. Strive HI is the DOE’s school accountability and improvement system.
Kalehua Krug, Ph.D., chair of ‘Aha Kauleo, the statewide Hawaiian Immersion advisory council and a faculty member of the College of Education at UHM, has been working with the DOE and other stakeholders in leading the creation of a Hawaiian Language assessment.
“As parents and Hawaiian Language educators, it is important that our children have every educational opportunity afforded to them, in our Hawaiian language,” stated Krug. “This field test brings us one more step closer to ensuring that this happens. We know the USDOE will be closely watching what occurs over the year during the Kaiapuni field assessment. We’re confident that Kaiapuni students are up to the challenge of rigorous assessments in the Hawaiian language.”
The DOE recently established the Office of Hawaiian Education, whose director will lead the incorporation of Hawaiian knowledge, practices and perspectives in all content areas; oversee and coordinate Hawaiian education programs, projects, and initiatives; and provide organizational leadership for growth of Ka Papahana Kaiapuni.
Tomorrow, February 20, is the application deadline for individuals interested in the position of Director of the Office of Hawaiian Education.