Achievement gap narrows as Hawaii pushes college and career readiness


More Hawaii public school students are graduating on time and enrolling in college, according to the first annual Strive HI Performance System report. The new accountability system, which replaces outdated aspects of the No Child Left Behind Act, provides a comprehensive picture of the health of the islands’ schools.

​​HONOLULU - More Hawaii public school students are graduating on time and enrolling in college, according to a new state report card. The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) today released its first annual Strive HI Performance System results, which provide a comprehensive picture of the health of the islands’ schools. The figures are based on data from the 2012-13 school year.

"We are extremely pleased to see significant improvements statewide on key college-and career-readiness indicators as we set a higher bar for students, teachers, as well as ourselves as educational leaders," said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. "The new Strive HI Performance System allows us to do a much better job of measuring, understanding and supporting school progress. The results are very encouraging and a testament to the hard work of our students and teachers."

Notable Strive HI results include:

  • Hawaii’s public schools have narrowed the achievement gap by 12 percent over the past two years. The gap measures the performance of “high-needs students” (those who have a disability, language barriers, or low family income) compared to the achievement of other students.
  • A majority of the state’s lowest-performing schools made tremendous growth after receiving targeted supports in “Zones of School Innovation.”
  • Of the state’s 14 top-performing schools, more than half (9) are Title I schools, meaning they overcame challenges associated with serving a large number of disadvantaged children from low-income families.
  • The on-time graduation rate (81 percent) and college enrollment rate (63 percent) continue to steadily rise over time.
  • Reading and math proficiency improved slightly. The percentage of students proficient in reading rose to 72 percent, from 71 percent a year ago, while math proficiency reached 60 percent from 59 percent.

Hawaii educators, parents, community groups and higher education stakeholders informed the development of the new Strive HI Performance System, which evaluates all 285 public schools, including charter schools. The system is designed to ensure all students graduate college-and career-ready by analyzing multiple achievement measures and offering tailored rewards, supports and interventions to schools.

The 2013 Strive HI Index List of Schools can be found under "Related Downloads" on our Strive HI Performance System page.

Strive HI Performance System Background

In May, the federal government approved Hawaii’s Strive HI Performance System to replace outdated aspects of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) and align transformation initiatives with the Hawaii State Board and Department of Education Strategic Plan.

Under NCLB, schools were graded on whether students met escalating annual reading and math benchmarks, known as Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP. In that system, AYP status was a single indicator and crude instrument that led directly to a series of strict, escalating consequences.

In contrast, the Strive HI Performance System will serve as more of a diagnostic tool to understand a school’s performance and progress on multiple, research-based indicators, including reading, math and science scores, achievement growth and gaps, chronic absenteeism, graduation rates, college readiness and enrollment.

"By valuing more than just test scores, we are taking a comprehensive look at the successes and challenges of schools," said Deputy Superintendent Ronn Nozoe. "This wealth of data will allow educators, school leaders, parents and the community to have meaningful conversations about what is working and where they need to improve to prepare all students for college and careers."

Based on their performance, schools are classified in one of five Strive HI Steps, each carrying varying degrees of rewards, supports and interventions to meet individual school needs. From highest to lowest, the steps include Recognition, Continuous Improvement, Focus, Priority and Superintendent’s Zone.

The positive results come as Hawaii’s educators are in the midst of a range of historic efforts to transform the state’s public education system, including a joint BOE/DOE Strategic Plan, Common Core State Standards, college-readiness assessments, more rigorous diploma requirements, and robust teacher and principal evaluation and support systems.

They also follow last month’s decision by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to lift high-risk status from the state’s federal Race to the top (RTTT) grant, noting “significant progress.”

A hallmark of the RTTT grant were “Zones of School Innovation (ZSI),” which targeted support for struggling schools in rural or remote, hard-to-staff areas serving the largest population of native Hawaiian and economically-disadvantaged students in the state. In all, 15 of the 18 ZSI schools (located in Nanakuli and Waianae on Oahu, and Kau, Keaau and Pahoa on the Hawaii Island) are now in “Continuous Improvement” status, meaning they no longer need intense interventions.

"The results from the Zones schools demonstrate that our commitment to high expectations, our strategic priorities and our collective belief that all students can achieve is paying off," said Mary Correa, complex area superintendent for Kau, Keaau and Pahoa. "I’m excited with our progress, and we look forward to build on our success."

Successful data-driven strategies that proved to be instrumental in turning around ZSI schools are being deployed statewide. Lessons learned through the ZSI initiative helped establish the foundation for the development of the Strive HI Performance System. More information can be found at

Schools that made extraordinary achievements will be recognized during the annual Strive HI Awards event this fall.

View a school's Strive HI report

To view a school's performance, follow these simple steps:

  • Visit and click on "Find Schools"
  • Type in the school in "Find by school name"
  • Click "Show Results"
  • When the school listing appears in the results, click "Read More"
  • Under Reports, click on the Strive HI Performance System School Report

For charter school reports, visit our Charter Schools page.

Contact Information

Donalyn Dela Cruz

Phone: 808-586-3232



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