Implementing Sexual Health Education at the DOE

Highlights of findings following the 2013-14 review of sexual health education, including recommendations and actions to improve internal processes.


Department recommendations to University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Center on Disability Studies (UHM-CDS) to improve Pono Choices curriculum:

  • While the Pono Choices curriculum is developed and owned by the UHM-CDS and the DOE does not have the authority to amend the curriculum itself. The DOE is requesting that UHM-CDS consider addressing the specific recommendations found on page 17 of the report and submit a revised version for review and approval in advance of School Year 2014-15. Schools shall not implement the Pono Choices curriculum in SY14-15 until the Department has received a revised version of the curriculum for review and approval for use.

Department recommendations to the Board of Education:

  • The Department recommends that the Board of Education review, as part of its ongoing Board policy audit, policies 2210 and 2245 to provide clarity around the context for discussions about prophylactic devices.

DOE actions to improve internal processes

Strengthen parent awareness of and role in sexual health education options

  • Change the current requirement to provide parents an option to opt-out of sexual health education to an opt-in.
  • Provide a customizable template for opt-in parent letters.
  • Require parent notification letters to offer an opportunity for parents to review materials or discuss activities with the teacher or administrators.
  • Recommend that schools implementing a new curriculum, program, or other activity covering controversial issues proactively host a family night or information briefing to educate families.

Improve public information about sexual health education

  • Disseminate updated Youth Risk Behavioral Survey results.
  • Work with UHM-CDS to publish a short resource for parents that summarizes nationally-recognized research on sexual health education and strategies for behavior prevention.
  • Make information about academic standards, including sexual health education standards, more accessible and user-friendly on the DOE’s website.

Review sequencing and timing of health education and science courses

  • Review the research and practices of other states and districts to determine if the timing of health courses, including sexual health education, and science courses covering life sciences are designed and timed to be the most developmentally appropriate and effective.

Improve internal processes for curriculum development, review, approval, and data collection

  • Work with the curriculum and instruction teams to make the materials review process clear and transparent, reflect state law and Board policy regarding roles and responsibilities, and ensure it:
    • Differentiates between approval for research, pilot, and statewide use;
    • Differentiates between approval as recommended, exclusive, or mandated;
    • Clarifies decision-making process and escalates decision-making for curriculum and materials regarding controversial topics;
    • Standardizes materials vetting process and stakeholder involvement;
    • Clarifies availability of evaluation criteria and evidence-based process for school-based selection of materials;
    • Annually announce, internally and to the public, a list of state reviewed, approved or mandated curriculum or instructional materials.
  • Explore the feasibility of an annual information collection from schools to identify curricula and instructional materials that are being implemented. Any such data collection must be done in manner that maximizes utility and minimizes burden on school staff.
  • Re-review approved sexual health education curriculum to identify and address and concerns similar to those identified for Pono Choices.

Contact Information

Communications and Community Affairs Office

Phone: 808-586-3232


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