“Over the last few years, we have seen Race to the Top states build on the systems and framework that they have been developing to lay the foundation for long-term, sustainable progress,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Hawaii has made key steps in implementing its plans, developing great teachers and leaders, and in improving students’ outcomes. As Hawaii completes the third year of implementing its Race to the Top grant, it has continued to demonstrate leadership in education reform.”
During a call with media before the report’s release, Secretary Duncan stated: “When we originally gave (Hawaii) the RTTT grant, lots of folks doubted our judgment there, and said there was no way they could be successful. They initially struggled…a lot of people didn’t think they could succeed, and they’ve shown amazing leadership in a relatively short amount of time…they’ve made huge progress.”
Governor Neil Abercrombie welcomed the news. “The U.S. Department of Education’s recognition of Hawaii's progress highlights our commitment to transform public education,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “We are proud of the hard work and dedication of our principals, teachers, staff and students. Hawaii has proven that no matter how great the challenge, we can pull together to make sure Hawaii’s keiki have the opportunities they need to succeed.”
Among Hawaii’s highlights as noted in the report, which documents efforts from Sept. 2012 – Sept. 2013:
- Improved scores on national benchmarks and access to more rigorous course work and resources like AP classes. Specifically, “The Nation’s 2013 Report Card” by the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) where Hawaii’s fourth- and eighth-graders proved to be among the nation’s leaders when it comes to improved progress in mathematics and reading achievement. Last year also marked the first time Hawaii’s fourth-graders surpassed the national average in mathematics.
- Progress in initiatives related to supporting teachers in leaders in Year 3, primarily due to the ratified contract with the Hawaii State Teachers Association in April 2013, allowing the implementation of the Educator Effectiveness System (EES) design and implementation.
- Continued support and training for educators statewide as we transitioned to new college-and career-readiness standards: Hawaii’s Common Core.
- Extensive supports the DOE has put in place to turn around low-achieving schools, particularly those in the Zones of School Innovation (ZSI), where community partners have played a key role in ensuring success. They include the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, Kamehameha Schools, AT&T, Hawaii 3R’s, Hawaiian Electric Industries and the Hawaii Business Roundtable.
“The third-year report is a testament to the remarkable efforts of our educators in meeting elevated expectations,” said Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “As we head into the final months of the grant, we continue our commitment to put into place systems and practices that will keep our students successful in college, careers and community long after the grant ends. Race to the Top was an important step in the transformation of our public school system and we are staying the course.”
In speaking with education reporters Tuesday morning, Ann Whalen of the USDOE’s Office of the Deputy Secretary commented: “Shout out to Hawaii — this time last year was on high risk, and over the past year has absolutely demonstrated amazing progress. (Hawaii) is one of our rising stars and one of the states we’re really watching as those with promising practices within the field.”
In August 2010, the USDOE awarded Hawaii with a four-year, $75 million RTTT grant. The following year, Hawaii was placed on high-risk status. In February 2013, the USDOE removed Hawaii’s high-risk status in two of five areas. These areas addressed education reform in the areas of standards and assessments (area B); and data systems (area C). In July 2013, the USDOE lifted the high-risk label for the entire grant, including three additional areas: system alignment and performance monitoring (area A); great teachers, great leaders (area D); and turning around persistently low-achieving schools (area E).
The Year 3 RTTT Hawaii Report also noted challenges for the state’s final year, which included transition to standards, building better data systems, and improving teacher effectiveness.
“We are already tackling these challenges and are holding ourselves accountable, not just for Race to the Top but because these are areas of focus in our Board of Education and DOE joint Strategic Plan,” said Matayoshi.
Resources from Hawaii’s Year 3 RTTT report:
About the Hawaii State Department of Education
The Hawaii State Department of Education is the ninth-largest U.S. school district and the only statewide educational system in the country. It is comprised of 255 schools and serves more than 183,000 students. King Kamehameha III established Hawaii’s public school system in 1840. The DOE is in the midst of a range of historic efforts to transform its public education system to ensure graduates succeed in college or careers. To learn more, visit HawaiiPublicSchools.org.