Spotlight: Farrington High — 'We really believe our kids can learn'

01-Apr-2015

Taking a closer look at some of the standout schools in the 2015 College & Career Readiness Indicators (CCRI) report, which looks at the performance of the Class of 2014 across a variety of key measurements, including proficiency, graduation, college-going and dual enrollment rates. Here we profile Farrington High School.

​​Video: Hawaii News Now​


Listening to Al Carganilla talk about Farrington High’s performance on the CCRI report, you’d think he expected his school’s blockbuster numbers all along.

The principal is happy, of course, but in a very matter of fact way. Like listening to someone discuss cause and effect — you do this, and you get that.

What did Farrington do? Like a lot of high schools statewide, they raised rigor, made increased demands of students and teachers, and shifted culture to emphasize success and college attainment.

As one of the largest schools in the state, Carganilla said, “getting everyone on the same page can be difficult. But the data shows the effort is paying off. We’re not just spinning our wheels. The work we’re doing is important — look at this data.”


As with other principals, Carganilla cited AVID training (Advancement Via Individual Determination) for staff as having a particularly strong impact. The program, which trains educators to use proven practices that prepare students for success in high school, college, and a career, especially students traditionally underrepresented in higher education, is in place at 130 of the Department's schools, mostly middle and high.

Carganilla noted this marks the first year Farrington is seeing a four-year cohort of AVID students. "A wave of going to college is now happening as a result."

Notably, not just going to college, but being prepared for it. Farrington saw not only huge jumps in participation in Advanced Placement tests, but passing scores that equate to college credit. They also saw a 7-point bump in students enrolled in Early College courses for dual high-school/college credit.

"When you talk about rigor, students being able to take Psychology 100 — college-level coursework — they start to think 'College is a real option for us,'" Carganilla said.

Other factors cited by the principal:

  • Increased professional development for teachers;
  • Working with middle schools that feed into Farrington to ensure students are supported and ready for rigorous coursework;
  • The school's eight academies which provide smaller learning environments to support students on tracks for which they have academic and career affinities;
  • Greater collaboration with the University of Hawaii system's community colleges.

And especially teachers, who are meeting higher expectations with this culture shift. "We’ve pushed them a lot, and they’re really working hard, and we have to commend them for that."

The CCRI report is an opportunity to breathe in what has been a rapid pace of reform for the public school system. This year, schools are taking the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA), a better measurement of whether students are on track for success in college and/or career; it is aligned to Hawaii's Common Core standards​.

And perhaps that's what you hear when Principal Carganilla speaks — an exhale, during a brief moment of reflection that comes with good news. And then, time to move forward.

"We really believe our kids can learn," he said. "This report is a testament not only to the work our teachers do, but how bad our kids want this. Getting everyone on the same page is difficult, but we still have to move forward."

About the CCRI reports

CCRI reports are an annual collaboration between the Department and the University of Hawaii, coordinated by Hawai'i P-20 Partnerships for Education, to present information on how well Hawaii public school graduates are prepared for college. Hawaii's CCRI reports are continuously recognized by national organizations, including the Education Sector, the Data Quality Campaign, Achieve, and the National Governors Association, as a leading example of collaboration between K-12 and higher education and for providing useful information on college readiness. Full reports can be found at http://www.p20hawaii.org/resources/college-and-career-readiness-indicators-reports.​


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