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.


​​​​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.

Key in our college promotion effort is Connect 2 Careers, a coalition for Hawaii's economic future. 

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:

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.
Statewide results from the Class of 2017 (released April 2018) show: 
  • The percentage of students enrolled in Dual Credit has nearly tripled and the percentage taking six or more credits has doubled.
  • An 8-point increase in the number of students taking the Advanced Placement exam;
  • An 11-point jump in students finishing a Career & Technical Education program of study (tracked since the Class of 2014).
Advanced Placement
The number of public school students who took exams jumped 49 percent over five years, with the number of passing scores rising 61 percent. Learn more about these optional exams and view a complete list​ of AP Courses offered at our high schools. See our latest results from 2017 here.
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. 

Statewide Assessments
Data from the 2016-17 Strive HI Performance System show the following two-year trends on statewide assessments:
  • Language Arts: Up 2 percentage points — 50 percent of students are meeting or exceeding the achievement standard on the Smarter Balanced Assessment
  • Mathematics: Up 1 percentage point — 42 percent of students are meeting or exceeding the achievement standard on the Smarter Balanced Assessment
  • Science: Up 5 percentage points — 46 percent of students are proficient on the Hawaii State Assessment-Science.
FAFSA Applications
A critical measure that serves as one predictor for college access is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. HIDOE has set a goal to have 70 percent of our seniors complete the FAFSA in SY 2018 and 90 percent in 2020. Follow Hawaii's FAFSA data dashboard to see progress statewide and by schools over time.
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 college credits before they graduate from high school. 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​]
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