Our Schools

The teachers, leaders and support staff at Hawaii’s public schools provide a rigorous standards-based education in the K-12 pipeline that is supported by various programs designed to create success for each student, and increase college and career readiness. Greater detail about these programs can be found under Teaching & Learning, Beyond the Classroom and Parents & Students. The school system is organized into 15 Complex Areas.

​​​​​​​Complex Areas

All Department schools are rolled into what's known as a Complex: A high school and the elementary and middle schools that feed into it. Anywhere from two to four Complexes are grouped into a Complex Area, which has its own Complex Area Superintendent (CAS) and support staff. The CAS reports to the Deputy Superintendent in the state office. View the Complex Area directory​.


​​​Hawaii Common Core Standards

The Department has deployed new academic standards that have been adopted in most states that will a) measurably improve the relevancy of educational markers from state to state, b) provide a clear roadmap of academic expectations that allows students, parents and teachers to collaborate on shared goals, and c) put a focus on real-world skills (logic, synthesis, application of concepts) to make students ready for college and career. The standards, which focus on English Language Arts and Math, were developed by states through the input of teachers, parents, and district and community leaders — they are academically rigorous, attainable for students, and practical for teachers. An initial rollout to grades K, 1, 2, 11 and 12 was completed in School Year 2012-13, with full implementation in 2013-14.

The Smarter Balanced exam, grounded in Common Core teachings, replaces the Hawaii State Assessment in 2014-15.

Comprehensive Student Support System​

Provides a focused and responsive system of supports, backed by data, to strengthen the academic, social, emotional and physical well-being of all students, with the goal of maximizing student achievement. Learn more.​

Special needs​

Students eligible for special education and related services receive specially designed instruction based on their Individualized Education Program (IEP). Students between the ages of 3 and 22 are placed in the least restrictive environment to benefit from a free and appropriate public education. The Department also serves students who have special needs due to other disability.

Gifted & Talented

Each school designs programs to serve the needs of identified gifted and talented students. These differentiated programs include enrichment activities, acceleration, advanced placement, and/or honors classes. Learn more.​

Student Learning Centers & Academies

Several high schools offer Learning Centers with special programs in business, computer technology, communication arts, humanities, international studies, music, performing arts, science, marine science, agriculture, mathematics and vocational studies. Many others also offer Academy Programs that provide specific career training that are funded by national grants and support from local business and industry.

Hawaiian education

The Hawaiian Studies program consists of kupuna and makua — culturally competent, native educators — who, through their teaching and leadership, seek to preserve the native language, values, history and culture of Hawaii. The Hawaiian Language Immersion Program provides (at a limited number of sites) educational instruction and experiences of state curriculum standards in Hawaiian.​


The Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) is a four-year career and technical education (CTE​) elective program of instruction cost-shared by the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. The curriculum is designed to teach high school students the value of citizenship, leadership, service to country, personal responsibility, and a sense of accomplishment, while instilling in them self-esteem, teamwork, and self-discipline. JROTC cadets earn advanced rank when enlisting into any branch of the military and advanced opportunities for federal/military academy appointments and ROTC college scholarships.​ Check with your high school for JROTC availability.

English Language Learners

Students with limited English proficiency​ are tested when they first enter school. The tests determine what English and native language help is needed for the students to progress in school. Appropriate services are provided.

Strategic Plan 2017-2020

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