HIDOE Distance-Learning Survey Insights and Findings


The surveys focused on distance-learning experiences during the closure of school buildings following spring break. The feedback gathered from these surveys aimed to both help gauge the Department’s readiness for distance learning and inform future planning.

​At the end of school year 2019-20, the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) conducted a series of online surveys for teachers, secondary students and families, as well as a principal data collection to gain a deeper understanding of distance-learning experiences. The feedback gathered from these surveys aimed to both help gauge the Department’s readiness for distance learning and inform future planning.

The HIDOE surveys focused on distance-learning experiences during the closure of school buildings following spring break in the following areas: student and teacher access to devices and internet connectivity, student well-being, student engagement and experience in learning, teacher and administrator readiness for distance-learning, teacher professional needs, and communication.

Survey participation was encouraged through email as well as through flyers that were disseminated at grab-and-go meal sites for families who may not have received the information online. HIDOE Community Homeless Concerns Liaisons were available to assist families in unstable housing and any inquiries regarding non-electronic submissions were directed to the Department for alternative arrangements. All surveys were conducted by a third-party partner, Panorama Education, and were completely confidential and anonymous.

The Department received 8,936 responses from secondary students, 8,324 responses from teachers, amounting to 61.3% of all teachers, 32,572 responses from families and 257 responses from principals or 100% of principals. 

The following insights have been synthesized from the teacher, student, family and principal feedback:


  • Overall, students have fair access to devices to use for distance learning, either with a school issued device, or their own home computers.
  • Most teachers had school issued devices for distance learning however, there are still about 5% of teachers who need a school issued device for distance learning.
  • There is a significant range of home computers for distance learning use. Family responses in complex areas range from 58% to 90%, and student responses in complex areas range from 55% to 93%. There is also a noticeable range from 44% to 67% of families who report enough devices for each family member to use at the same time. 
HIDOE will continue to work towards ensuring that all teachers are equipped with devices needed to provide robust instruction for distance learning, and will continue efforts to decrease the technology equity gap by providing access to devices for all students. HIDOE has ordered 10,000 computers for summer learning and another 13,000 for the opening of the school year. The Department has also made a request of $57.8 million to the Legislature to accelerate digital transformation. HIDOE schools continue to loan and distribute devices to students. In addition, HIDOE is developing a process to identify students who are in need of devices and track if they were provided a loaned device. 

Internet Connectivity
  • Overall, a fair number of students have access to reliable internet.
  • Access to reliable internet connectivity varies by complex areas. There is a range in student responses range in complex areas from 69% to 81%, and family survey responses vary from 66% to 82%.
  • Overall, most teachers have access to reliable internet connectivity. About 5% of teachers are still in need of reliable internet access. 
During the closing of school buildings, the representatives from HIDOE met weekly with the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) Broadband Hui to identify solutions to advance access to technology and high bandwidth in Hawaii. In addition, 779 HIDOE hotspots were issued to students. For summer learning, the Mobile Hubs on neighbor island sites, and the YES Mobile Hub on Oahu were established to “bring” connectivity to students to access digital learning. While the State of Hawaii continues to grapple with connectivity challenges, the HIDOE will continue to advocate for solutions from the DBEDT Broadband Hui.

Student Participation
  • Student responses show consistent participation in distance learning through online learning or paper packets. The students who responded may likely be the ones who have been participating in distance learning more consistently than other peers. 
  • A little over a half of the families responded that their child spent less than half the day on learning activities.
  • Principals reported that the majority of teachers interacted with students 2 or 3 days a week. There was variation amongst teacher instruction in the number of days per week instruction was provided through technology.
  • Teacher data show a difficulty in consistently engaging the majority of their students during the closure of school buildings. 
HIDOE is preparing for the reopening of schools through adopted school models to ensure 180 days of instruction. Attendance will be taken and students will receive grades each quarter. The first two weeks of schools are planned as half days for students that will also allow for training time for staff to test and adjust to schools’ protocols, conduct employee training, and prepare for classroom and virtual instruction.

Distance Learning Engagement and Instruction
  • According to the majority of students and families, teachers were quite or extremely supportive of the student’s learning during the closure of school buildings.
  • Majority of families report that their child learned somewhat or much less during the closing of school buildings.
  • Families are telling us their biggest barrier to distance learning is their job compared with teachers and students who reported lack of quiet space. Distance learning for families appeared to be more burdensome than it was for students and teachers.
  • Overall most teachers used technology to stay connected with students across the state. Principals reporting a high percentage of teachers using technology to stay connected with students ranged in complex areas from 78% to 100%, with nine complex areas reporting 100% of their teachers used technology to stay connected with students.
When planning school models for the reopening of school, priority will be given to K-2 students and vulnerable students for daily in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible. During the first two weeks of the opening of schools, time is built in for teacher professional development to prepare for virtual and classroom instruction. State offices, complex areas and schools will continue to seek and offer teachers with professional development opportunities, especially around engaging students online.  

Student Well Being
  • Most students report having a significant adult at school they can count on when needed.
  • About one in every five students report that they are quite or extremely concerned about their social emotional well being.
  • About one in every three families report that they are quite or extremely concerned about their child’s social emotional well being.
Schools will continue to make students’ social and emotional learning a priority. Since May 2020, the Department has been partnering with the Hawai‘i Keiki Healthy and Ready to Learn Program to provide a health resource hotline and telehealth services for students and families. Also, in partnership with the Education for Homeless Children & Youth office, the Department launched the pilot YES Project, a collaborative outreach initiative for summer 2020 to connect with students and families with resources, including meals, hygiene supplies, food, clothing, and activities for academic and social support. 

Teacher and Principal Readiness for Distance Online Instruction 
  • About 1 in 3 teachers report that they feel quite or extremely confident about online working and teaching.  Nearly another 1 in 3 teachers report that they are slightly or not confident at all.
  • Most principals are comfortable or very comfortable facilitating a webex meeting, about 1 in 4 teachers are slightly or not comfortable at all.
During the closing of school, the Leadership Institute created peer teacher to teacher online professional development opportunities for strategies and networking. These virtual sessions were attended by hundreds of HIDOE teachers. Training is a priority for teachers and staff, with the first two weeks of schools being half day sessions, professional development for teachers is one of the built in components. As the year progresses, complex areas and state offices will provide more opportunities for professional development, especially in the area of engaging students online and addressing special populations.  

Training and Professional Development 
  • Families are telling us they would like support with access to resources and learning activities.
  • Teachers are telling us they would like professional development the most on how to engage students online and addressing special populations.
The state, complex areas and schools will consider ways to support parents with their request to provide access to resources and learning activities. More than a third of the families would like technology support, the Ohana Help Desk is in development to provide technology support for students and families for the upcoming school year. 

  • Students and families report  the easiest way to stay in touch with them is through email, followed by text message.
  • Families of students who receive special education or related services report the majority of special education teachers and about half of the service providers “mostly or always” responded to their child’s unique needs.
  • Principals report the most effective way for them to communicate with parents is through mass messaging (Synervoice), followed by emails, phone and text.
HIDOE has transitioned last school year for all employees from Lotus Notes to the enterprise Google email system, along with Webex accounts for every employee. This allows for virtual meetings that have enabled HIDOE to shift quickly to online meetings and instruction. Many schools have already issued school-level student email accounts, and HIDOE is moving towards “all” students having accessible accounts in a state-level enterprise Google tenant for instructional and communication purposes. 

A public dashboard provided by Panorama Education, that encompasses the teacher, secondary student and family survey result can be accessed at bit.ly/HIDOEDistanceLearningSurveyDashboard. The results of the principal data collection is available here: bit.ly/HIDOEPrincipalDataCollection. A full comprehensive report of the distance-survey results can be found at bit.ly/HIDOEDistanceLearningSurveyReport

Families who completed the survey were entered to win a new iPad or chromebook provided by the Hawaii Community Foundation. One student each from Kilauea Elementary, Mililani Uka Elementary, Konawaena Middle, Campbell High and Waialae Elementary will be recipients of a new device when they return to school in the fall. 

The Department is currently seeking participation from secondary students (middle and high schools grades 6-12) and parents and guardians of any student that engaged in a HIDOE summer learning program for its summer learning survey, which remains open until July 24. Feedback from this survey will help HIDOE to learn more about the experiences and needs across summer learning programs to better assess the allocation of resources and to inform future plans for distance learning options. 

Contact Information

Teri Ushijima


Email: teri.ushijima@k12.hi.us


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