Results of more rigorous test show progress in academic achievement and college pathways


In its second year of administering a new, more rigorous testing standard, Hawaii’s students continue to move in the right direction in meeting higher expectations for college and career readiness. An historic assessment baseline is set for Hawaiian immersion students.

HONOLULU – In its second year of administering a new, more rigorous testing standard, Hawaii's students continue to move in the right direction in meeting higher expectations for college and career readiness. The Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE) today released statewide Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA) test scores in English Language Arts/Literacy (ELA) and mathematics. First administered in Spring 2015, the test is aligned to Hawaii Common Core standards and replaced the Hawaii State Assessments (HSA) in math and reading.

"The second year of results show incremental improvements and our second year of data provides a solid foundation for comparisons moving forward," said Kathryn Matayoshi, HIDOE Superintendent.  "Our schools are invested in the higher standards of this test and we hope to build on our momentum each year to ensure that our students are prepared for college, careers and community life after high school." 

The results show that 51 percent of students tested met or exceeded the achievement standard in ELA, up three percentage points from the previous year.  In math, 42 percent of students tested met or exceeded achievement standards, up one percentage point from the previous year.

English Language Arts (ELA) ​ ​ ​

Met/Exceeded Achievement Standard

Met/Exceeded Achievement Standard




Mathematics ​ ​ ​

Met/Exceeded Achievement Standard

Met/Exceeded Achievement Standard



The scores reflect the percentage of students who meet or exceed achievement standards.  More than 90,000 students took the SBA, and Hawaii had a 98 percent participation rate, up one percentage point from the previous year.

SBA tests measure how well students are developing the skills needed for success in college or the workplace.  On the basis of their 11th grade scores, 5,756 of this year's public high school seniors already qualify for college-level classes.  At 256 colleges and universities in ten states, including the University of Hawaii (UH) System, students can use their SBA scores to be exempted from placement exams and to enroll directly into entry-level college courses, eliminating the need for remediation. These 256 colleges and universities represent 78 percent of the higher education institutions where members of the graduating class of 2015 enrolled.

"The University of Hawaii system is pleased that SBA scores are trending upward as it reflects the increased preparedness of our high school graduates for college," said David Lassner, President of the UH system.  "UH's continued acceptance of Smarter Balanced scores for placement means that more high school graduates will have a quicker entry into college level courses, which we know improves the pace and number of college graduates.  Working together with the Department of Education, we are continuing to strengthen Hawaii's educational pipeline."

In Spring 2016, 17 states and the Bureau of Indian Affairs administered SBA. This provides an "apples to apples" comparison of Hawaii students' performance based on the SBA.  The SBA measures students' progress on Common Core Standards adopted by the states, which are aligned with expectations of higher education and employers and are internationally benchmarked. SBA's achievement standards were set by the 19 Smarter Balanced Governing States and Territories, and included input from teachers, parents, education faculty, businesses and community members to set threshold scores to measure student performance.  Hawaii educators from HIDOE and UH were among the more than 3,000 who participated in test development and standard setting.

Click here to learn more about the HIDOE's Smarter Balanced Assessment.  More detailed information about SBA is also available at the following links.

New assessment baseline set for Hawaiian immersion

In a historic first for the state, the Kaiapuni Educational Program provided students with Hawaiian Language Assessments: Kaiapuni Assessment of Educational Outcomes (KAEO).

"We are setting a precedence with having a native language assessment that is accepted by the U.S. Department of Education," said Superintendent Matayoshi.  "KAEO represents a significant milestone since it measures Hawaiian immersion students' progress on rigorous standards in language arts and mathematics."

The prior Hawaii State Assessment (HSA) for Kaiapuni students was the English-based HSA translated into Hawaiian language, while KAEO was developed in Hawaiian.  Furthermore, under a USDOE-approved waiver from federal requirements for using a single statewide assessment for all students (i.e., Smarter Balanced), grade 3 and 4 Kaiapuni students took only the KAEO in language arts and mathematics, and those students' scores are included in their schools' Strive HI academic achievement proficiency rates.  Among 266 participating grade 3 Kaiapuni students, 27 percent of tested proficient in language arts and 32 percent in mathematics.  Among 265 participating grade 4 Kaiapuni students, 32 percent tested proficient in language arts and 19 percent in mathematics.​

"These initial scores will provide a baseline by which we can measure progress moving forward," said Tammi Chun, Assistant Superintendent.  "We continue to make strides for Hawaiian immersion students by setting higher standards and creating assessments in the Hawaiian language.  The partnership with the Hawaiian education community is truly unprecedented work and will contribute to the continuation of the Hawaiian language and culture."

For more details on the Kaiapuni Educational Program, please visit Board of Education Policy 105-8: Ka Papahana Kaiapuni.

Contact Information

Donalyn Dela Cruz

Phone: 808-586-3232


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