Our Schools

This section provides an overview of the structure of Hawai'i's public education system, from the foundational Strategic Plan to the key academic and student support services provided to ensure all students have access to an excellent education that increases their post-secondary readiness for college, career and community.

Strategic Plan

The governing document for the public education system in Hawai‘i, covering the years 2017-2020, provides a common foundation of expectations and supports for public education, centering on closing the achievement gap to ensure equity and excellence for each student. An implementation plan focuses on three high-impact strategies: School Design, Teacher Collaboration, and Student Voice.

  • Learn more about the conversation on the next strategic plan, which will run through 2030. 
  • This work is built on our mission and core values, as well as General Learner Outcomes for all students.
  • View our fact sheet on the Hawaiʻi public school system.

Nā Hopena A‘o

Nā Hopena A‘o (HĀ) is a systemwide framework, enshrined in Board of Education Policyto develop the skills, behaviors and dispositions that are reminiscent of Hawaiʻi’s unique context, and to honor the qualities and values of the indigenous language and culture of Hawaiʻi. HĀ is foundational in our approach to cultivate learning environments that support Belonging, Responsibility, Excellence, Aloha, Total well-being, and Hawaiʻi. HĀ belongs not just to the Department, but to all our communities, including the global community.


Our schools use the following standards as markers for what students should know and be able to do. Please refer to our factsheet on common educational terms to understand the difference between standards and curriculum. 

Supporting our students

  • The Comprehensive Student Support System (CSSS) provides a focused and responsive system of tiered supports, backed by data, to strengthen the academic, social, emotional and physical well-being of all students, with the goal of maximizing student achievement.
  • Students eligible for special education and related services receive specially designed instruction based on their Individualized Education Program (IEP). Students between the ages of 3 and 22 are placed in the least restrictive environment to benefit from a free and appropriate public education. The Department also serves students who have special needs due to other disability.
  • Student safety is a chief focus of our schools. Children must feel safe and supported to maximize their potential. 
  • Nutrition and physical activity are foundational to effective learning. The Department has a number of programs and supports in place to ensure students are eating nutritious meals and their physical wellness is strengthened.

Excellence and innovation

  • Our graduation requirements for a diploma can be viewed here. Students can also earn honors certificates in academics, CTE and STEM, and a biliteracy seal for demonstrated multilingualism proficiency.
  • Through the dual credit program, high school students can take courses that meet high school graduation requirements while also earning college credit. These include Early College opportunities in which college professors teach courses at our high school campuses, and others in which our students can take courses at University of Hawaiʻi campuses.
  • Advanced Placement courses are available at all high schools; if there is a particular course a student is interested in that is not available at a school, the Department's HVLN Hawaii Online Courses Program (formerly known as E-School) offers a full complement.
  • The Hawaiian Studies program provides curriculum support and resources in the instruction and learning of Hawaiian culture, history and language across K-12. The Hawaiian Language Immersion Program provides educational instruction, assessment and learning experiences in the Hawaiian language.
  • All cultures and languages are valuable resources. Multilingualism creates learning environments that draw from the rich linguistic diversity and cultural strengths of Hawai‘i’s students to support and develop English Learners and non-English Learners alike.   
  • Many of our schools have gone through a School Design process to ensure that every student is highly engaged in a rigorous, creative and innovative academic curriculum, in their learning environment, and in powerful applied learning practices aligned to college and careers. We've collected these into a portfolio that includes schools built around arts immersion, International Baccalaureate, STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), project-based and ʻāina-based learning, career academies and more.


Click here to connect with opportunities including student leadership, athletics and more, or reach out to your school's Student Activities Coordinator. More opportunities:

  • Learning Centers: Several high schools offer Learning Centers with special programs in business, computer technology, communication arts, humanities, international studies, music, performing arts, science, marine science, agriculture, mathematics and vocational studies. Many others also offer Academy Programs within CTE pathways that provide specific career training that are funded by national grants and support from local business and industry.
  • JROTC: The Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps is a four-year career and technical education (CTE​) elective program of instruction cost-shared by the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. The curriculum is designed to teach high school students the value of citizenship, leadership, service to country, personal responsibility, and a sense of accomplishment, while instilling in them self-esteem, teamwork, and self-discipline. JROTC cadets earn advanced rank when enlisting into any branch of the military and advanced opportunities for federal/military academy appointments and ROTC college scholarships.​ Check with your high school for JROTC availability.

Complex Areas

All Department schools belong to a Complex — it is a high school and the elementary and middle schools that feed into it. Anywhere from two to four Complexes are grouped into a Complex Area, which has its own Complex Area Superintendent (CAS) and support staff. The CAS reports to the Deputy Superintendent in the state office. View theComplex Area directory​.







It is only possible to achieve equity, excellence and innovation in all our schools with the support of our network of partners and volunteers. Connect with your community school to see how you can participate in cultivating healthy, prepared learners to lead a thriving, sustainable Hawaiʻi.


Ho‘oha‘aheo newsletter cover

The Department's primary publication featuring successes across our public schools.

View all Ho‘oha‘aheo Newsletters