An Expectation of College

The public school system in Hawaii is charged with preparing our students for life. Life, increasingly, requires knowledge and skill sets that can best be achieved through a post-secondary education — from 2-year job certification to doctoral programs. Our Strategic Plan directs that more students be ready for and enroll in college. This page offers an overview of initiatives and results aligned with that effort.

​Celebrate success​​​

Supt. Kathryn Matayoshi, Oct. 2, 2016: With more public school students going to college, taking advanced coursework and meeting benchmarks on AP and ACT exams, we should celebrate the hard work of our students, teachers and administrators.


​​​​Why college?​

We know that jobs of the future require more than a high school diploma. One study shows 70 percent of jobs in Hawaii by 2020 will require some college. The impacts of post-secondary education are legion:

  • The annual earnings gap between high school graduates and college graduates is significant. 
  • Lifetime earnings for college graduates average $1 million more than non-graduates.
  • College graduates are two-thirds less likely to be unemployed, and three-quarters less likely to be in poverty than high school graduates.
  • College graduates are healthier.
  • The cost of not going to college is the highest it's ever been — millennials with just a high school diploma are faring worse today than their counterparts in earlier generations by almost every economic measure examined.

To learn more, visit 55 by '25, a cross-agency campaign to boost college attendance in Hawaii.

The Strategic Plan

We encourage everyone to read the full plan to deliver success for students, staff and the public school system. The objective and targets from the plan relative to college readiness belong under Goal 1: Student Success: All students demonstrate they are on a path toward success in college, career, and citizenship.

  • Objective 1: All students are empowered in their learning to set and achieve their aspirations for the future.
  • Objective 2: All students are safe, healthy, and supported in school, so that they can engage fully in high-quality educational opportunities.
  • Objective 3: All students are offered and engage in a rigorous, well-rounded education so that students are prepared to be successful in their post-high school goals.
  • Objective 4: All students transition successfully throughout their educational experiences.

How are we doing?

An overview of data points and initiatives reflecting the effort to prepare students for careers and college:

Smarter Balanced 2014-15 results
The first run of the more rigorous statewide assessment showed 48 percent of Hawaii's public students meet or exceed the achievement standard in ELA. In math, 41 percent of students tested meet or exceed achievement standards.
  • Press release [VIEW]
  • Hawaii Business Roundtable: "Hawaii students did well on challenging exams" [VIEW]
College & Career Readiness Indicators (CCRI)
Hawaii P-20 produces this annual report that examines how our high schools are doing across various indicators that express readiness for college and career. Those include graduation rates; assessment proficiency in reading, math and science; Advanced Placement (AP) and ACT performance; college attendance; and college-level strength of courses in English, Mathematics. Our rates for proficiency, AP performance, and college attendance and performance are on upward trajectories. Click here to view reports going back to 2009.
  • CCRI trends (Class of 2015): The two-year data trend​ (report released March 2016) shows:
    • Statewide college-going rate at 56 percent, up two points.
    • Early College enrollment (dual credits coursework in high school) up 4 points statewide, from 6 to 10 percent.
    • Remediation down 4 points in math and 6 points in English.
Advanced Placement
The number of public school students who took exams jumped 54 percent over five years, with the number of passing scores rising 52 percent. Learn more about these optional exams and view a complete list​ of AP Courses offered at our high schools.
The AP provides willing and academically prepared students with the opportunity to take rigorous college-level courses while still in high school, and to earn college credit, advanced placement, or both for successful performance on the AP Exams. Since 2012, Hawaii has received grants from the U.S. Department of Education to subsidize test fees for low-income students. Funding has increased year-over-year with HIDOE receiving $114,168 in 2015. 

Support for School-Level Programs
  • AVID: The Advancement Via Individual Determination program is dedicated to closing the achievement gap by preparing all students for college and other postsecondary opportunities with special training for educators, with a focus on middle and high school. The Department assists schools to validate their effectiveness in implementing and embedding the program as part of their annual reporting. For School Year 2014-15, there are 130 schools providing the AVID Elective Class. AVID Elective targets students in the academic middle – B, C, and even D students – who have the desire to go to college and the willingness to work hard, but who often don't get the same attention as their peers in the top and bottom performance groups.
  • Early College: A coordinated initiative to allow more high school students to earn six or more college credits before they graduate from high school. Spearheaded by Hawaii P-20, funded by the Castle Foundation and GEAR UP Hawaii. Schools can also design their own program: See Waipahu High's program funded by the McInerny Foundation.
    • ​More students earning college credit in high school. [VIEW​]
Strategic Plan 2017-2020

How do I...?


View all FAQ's