2013 Year in Review


The end of a tremendous year is upon us. Over the past 12 months, we have made extraordinary progress in our efforts to transform Hawaii’s public school system.

Click the image to download a poster of key successes in our public schools in 2013. Happy New Year!

Message from the Superintendent

The end of a tremendous year is upon us. Over the past 12 months, we have made extraordinary progress in our efforts to transform Hawaii’s public school system.

The year started off with exciting news. In February, the U.S. Department of Education gave us high marks in its two-year Race to the Top (RTTT) report, praising our work on standards, assessments and data system development and use. By July, the U.S. DOE had announced that Hawaii’s RTTT grant was back in good standing.

Another landmark accomplishment came this spring when the Strive HI Performance System – our redesigned school improvement system aligned to the Strategic Plan – gained federal approval. The new system measures school performance based on multiple success measures and provides meaningful data to guide improvement efforts.

More historical firsts in 2013 included offering the ACT test to all students in grades 8 through 11. The new school year also marked the introduction of digital curriculum in eight schools (six on Oahu and two on Hawaii Island), and the start of Hawaii Common Core, a new set of clear learning expectations aligned to college and careers.

Our students and educators continued to bring acclaim to their communities and their families. Just last month, “The Nation’s Report Card” by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) showed that Hawaii’s fourth-graders outperformed their national peers in mathematics, and that they, along with our eighth-graders, continue to progress in both mathematics and reading.

Earlier in the year, Sheena Alaiasa of King Intermediate became the first Hawaii principal to be named 2014 National Middle-Level Principal of the Year by MetLife/National Association of Secondary School Principals. And Matthew Lawrence, a National Board Certified Teacher who inspires his students through creative hands-on projects, was named the 2014 Hawaii State Teacher of the Year.

We know that these exceptional results would not be possible without your hard work. On behalf of Hawaii’s State Department of Education, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude for all that you do for Hawaii’s students and their families.

We wish you a joyful holiday season and a happy new year, and we look forward to welcoming our students and families back to school to build on our progress in 2014.

— Supt. Kathryn Matayoshi


Maui High captures its fifth Hawaii Regional Science Bowl championship by going undefeated at the Science Bowl at Honolulu Community College. The team wins an expenses-paid trip to the National Science Bowl in Washington, D.C. in April.

Kaiser High student Aaron Nee is named the winner in Alaska Airlines’ “Paint-the-Plane” contest, which drew more than 2,700 entries statewide. He had his design adorn an Alaska 737 over the summer, and won a trip for four to any of the carrier’s destinations, and a $5,000 scholarship.


The U.S. Department of Education releases its two-year Race to the Top report, covering progress made through August 2012. The report commends the DOE for a number of major accomplishments over that time period in the following areas:

  • Transitioning to College and Career-Ready Standards
  • Building Better Data Systems
  • Supporting Great Teachers and School Leaders
  • Turning Around Low-Performing Schools
  • Expanding Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education

The U.S. Department of Education announces the Hawaii DOE is off high risk in Areas B and C of the Race to the Top grant for work on standards, assessments, and data system development and use.

Kahuku High captures its second straight “We the People” statewide championship and advances to the national tournament in Washington, D.C.

The DOE announces dozens of Hawaii public schools will pilot a new online assessment aimed at measuring whether students are on track to graduate high school, be ready for college and the workplace. As many as 75 DOE schools were selected to participate in the pilot of the Smarter Balanced assessment system, which will launch statewide in the 2014-15 school year.

The 9th Annual AP Report to the Nation shows Hawaii’s public school system has seen across-the-board gains in the number of students taking AP exams, total exams taken, and scores that qualify students for college credit – in line with a national trend.


Hawaii DOE awards $1 million to schools in the inaugural Strive HI Awards. Among the schools receiving the highest awards of $100,000 each were Hilo Intermediate, King Intermediate, Moanalua Middle, Halau Ku Mana Public Charter School and Waters of Life Public Charter School. Two elementary schools, Benjamin Parker and Nanakuli, each won $50,000.

Leilehua High successfully defends its title in the Army Service Division at the National CyberPatriot V Competition in Washington, D.C.

Bryan Rankie, a fifth-grade general education teacher at Mauka Lani, is honored as the National Milken Educators of Hawaii’s “Teacher of Promise.” The award annually recognizes a teacher who demonstrates excellence in the field and the highest qualities of a professional educator during the first four semesters in the classroom.

Akira Takabayashi, an eighth-grader at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School on Kauai, wins the 2013 aio Hawaii State Spelling Bee. In doing so, he becomes the third consecutive male student from a Neighbor Island public school to win the statewide contest.

Led by five awards from Waianae High School, public schools capture 16 out of 17 awards won by Hawaii schools at the 10th Annual Student Television Network (STN) Convention in Los Angeles. Other schools taking awards include Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle, Waianae Intermediate, Moanalua High, Waiakea Intermediate, Waiakea High and Maui Waena Intermediate.

A four-year contract agreement is reached between the State of Hawaii and the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

The Hawaii State Board of Education and the DOE launch a Leadership Institute under the Office of the Superintendent to manage the effort of strengthening department-wide leadership effectiveness.


Leilehua, Baldwin and Kalani high schools join forces to win the FIRST Robotics Competition at the University of Hawaii. The schools secure their places in the FIRST Robotics Championships at the end of the month in St. Louis, Missouri.

For the first time, the DOE begins offering the ACT College and Career Readiness assessment to all students in grades 8 through 11, which totals about 50,000 students. It is during this administration of the ACT that current senior Gillian Desmond of Roosevelt High becomes the only student in Hawaii to score a perfect score of 36.

Kailua Intermediate’s Michael-Logan Jordan is named one of America’s Top 10 Youth Volunteers of 2013 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Afflicted by juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, Michael-Logan has raised more than $10,000 for the National Arthritis Foundation, spearheaded donation drives for wounded soldiers and donated his birthday gifts to children in need. He won a $5,000 personal award and a $5,000 grant from the Prudential Foundation for the charity of his choice.

Waipahu High Principal Keith Hayashi is named the winner of the Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award. The prize includes $15,000 for a school project of Hayashi’s choice and an additional $10,000 cash award. The Island Insurance Foundation also presented a $2,000 cash award to two semi-finalists, Principal Chad Farias of Keaau Elementary in Hilo, Hawaii, and Principal Richard Stevens of Kilohana Elementary in Kaunakakai, Molokai.

Principal Naomi Matsuzaki of Kahaluu Elementary is named the 2013 National Distinguished Principal for the State of Hawaii. Other nominees include Jan Iwase (Central District, Hale Kula Elementary), Bonnie Tabor (Honolulu District, Waikiki Elementary), Wendy Takahashi (Leeward District, Nanakuli Elementary), Beverly Stanich (Maui District, Wailuku Elementary) and Corey Nakamura (Kauai District, Hanalei Elementary).

Vice Principal Dean Kaneshiro of Aiea Elementary is named Hawaii’s 2013 National Association of Elementary School Principals Outstanding Assistant Principal.

Farrington High wins the National Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) of the Year award. The award honors a student club that has demonstrated extraordinary leadership to ensure all students in their school community feel safe and treated with respect regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

For the fourth consecutive year, Moanalua High is named a national semi-finalist and among the top 50 teams in the nation in the VANS Custom Culture design contest. The national high school art contest encourages schools to submit four original designs for the renowned shoemaker.


King Intermediate Principal Sheena Alaiasa and Kaimuki Middle Vice Principal CeliaAnn Main-Anakalea are selected as Hawaii’s top school leaders by the Hawaii Association of Secondary School Administrators. The national program recognizes outstanding secondary school leaders who have succeeded in providing high-quality learning opportunities for students, as well as exemplary contributions to their profession.

The U.S. DOE approves the Strive HI Performance System, the DOE’s new school accountability and improvement system. The Strive HI Performance System replaces components of the federal No Child Left Behind requirements and reflects the State Strategic Plan. It aligns and connects with state education policies and initiatives including the Hawaii Common Core, updated assessments, more rigorous diploma and graduation requirements, successful school improvement strategies in the ZSI and robust teacher and principal evaluation and support systems.


Six Hawaii public schools are among 1,900 schools across the country recognized in The Washington Post’s ‘2013 High School Challenge Index,’ which highlights the nation’s top schools that effectively prepare students for college success. The schools are Campbell High, Kaiser High, Kalaheo High, Kalani High and Mililani High on Oahu, and King Kekaulike on Maui.


Hale Kula Elementary, on the U.S. Army’s Wheeler/Schofield Barracks, breaks ground for the first upgrades in the campus’ 53-year history. The school was awarded a $26.6 million grant by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). The grant, combined with $6.6 million from the DOE, will give the school its first upgrades since it was built in 1959. The plans call for a new administration building, two-story classroom building, a student center and library-media center, additional classrooms, and for the renovation of existing classrooms.

Alvin Shima is named Complex Area Superintendent for the Baldwin-Kekaulike-Maui complex on the island of Maui. He had been serving in an interim capacity since March.

King Intermediate Principal Sheena Alaiasa is announced as one of three national finalists for 2014 Middle Level Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). Alaiasa – the first-ever middle school principal from Hawaii to enter the finalist round – wins a finalist prize of a $1,500 grant. The national award winner will receive an additional $3,500 grant from program administrators MetLife and NASSP.

The DOE launches HawaiiPublicSchools.org, a redesigned website to better serve parents, students, teachers, staff and the broader public. The website overhaul was one of the specific targets of focus outlined in the DOE and Board of Education’s 2011-2018 Strategic Plan. The new site is a custom content management system to house and surface a vast archive of reports and paged information. It took nearly a year of research and public and staff input.

The DOE announces that the first phase of its “Get on Board” initiative to reform student bus transportation system will reinstate service to as many as 1,000 students at 30 schools in the Aiea, Moanalua, Pearl City, Radford and Waipahu High complexes areas. The first phase also includes the restoration of routes in Aiea Heights, Halawa Heights and Waikele Elementary School attendance areas.

The DOE announces eight schools for its Common Core Digital Curriculum Pilot with $8 million granted from the Hawaii State Legislature. The schools are Keaau Elementary, Mililani Mauka Elementary, Mililani Waena Elementary, Moanalua Middle, Nanaikapono Elementary, Nanakuli Elementary, Nanakuli Intermediate and High, and Pahoa Elementary.

The DOE is cleared from “high-risk” status in the Race to the Top grant by the U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DOE). In a letter to Gov. Neil Abercrombie, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan acknowledges the major progress that Hawaii has and continues to make.


The 2013-14 school year officially opens with the DOE unveiling the first facility redesign for Small Learning Communities at Farrington High. The school’s new wing – the first public school redesigned structure for collegiate-style academies – will house its Law and Justice, Sports Industry, and Business academies. Farrington High also has five other academies, including Health, Teacher Cadet, Engineering, Creative Arts and Technology, and Culinary academies.

Strive HI, the DOE’s new school accountability and improvement system, shows that the achievement gap has narrowed as Hawaii’s public schools push college and career readiness. Among the notable findings, schools have narrowed the achievement gap by 12 percent over the past two years. The gap measures the performance of “high-needs” students compared to the achievement of other students. Also:

  • The on-time graduation rate (83 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.

Sheena Alaiasa, Principal of King Intermediate School, is named by the National Association of Secondary School Principals as the top middle-level principal in the nation. She becomes the first Hawaii educator to earn the prestigious award.


The DOE awards 14 top-performing schools $1 million for exceptional achievement as part of the state’s new Strive HI Performance System. The 14 "Recognition" schools and their awards are:

Highest Performance and High Progress ($95,000 each)

  • Ahuimanu Elementary
  • Red Hill Elementary
  • Waters of Life Public Charter School

Highest Performance ($75,000 each)

  • E.B. de Silva Elementary
  • Hickam Elementary
  • Hokulani Elementary
  • Lanakila Elementary
  • Liholiho Elementary
  • Manoa Elementary
  • Maunaloa Elementary
  • Palisades Elementary
  • Pearl Ridge Elementary

The DOE names Donna Therrien, a former district support teacher, as its Employee of the Year. Kaala Elementary’s Food Services Team takes the DOE’s Team of the Year award. The program recognizes employees who have made special and continued contributions to improve the quality and effectiveness of Hawaii's public school system.

Blanche Pope Elementary, Nuuanu Elementary and Waikiki Elementary schools are named 2013 National Blue Ribbon Schools for their outstanding performance and improvement efforts. The schools are among 286 schools recognized under the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program. The award honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students perform at very high levels or where significant improvements are being made in students' achievement levels.

Laie Elementary teacher Colleen Spring is named the 2013 Hawaii History Teacher of the Year by the Hawaii Council for the Humanities. Spring, who has been at Laie Elementary for over 20 years, has taught a wide range of grade levels and core subjects including American history, the U.S. Constitution and world history.


Enrollment in Hawaii’s public schools grows by 2,000 students. For the 2013-14 school year, Hawaii’s public schools enrolled 185,273 students, an increase of 1.1 percent compared to last year’s total of 183,251. The figure represents all 255 DOE schools and 33 charter schools.

The DOE announces it is adding routes to its “Get on Board” student transportation bus pilot. The new routes go into effect November 5, and will serve about 200 more students from August Ahrens Elementary, Highlands Intermediate, Pearl City High and Waipahu High.

Maui High’s Saber Marching Band and Color Guard is officially invited to the 2015 Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., making it the ninth Hawaii public school band to appear in the prestigious parade, and first one since Pearl City in 2006.

Matthew Lawrence, a fifth-grade teacher at Waikiki Elementary, is named the 2014 Hawaii State Teacher of the Year. The state’s top teaching award is presented annually to a classroom teacher selected from more than 11,000 educators within the DOE. Lawrence was among seven District Teachers of the Year recognized.


The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) spring 2013 results show Hawaii’s fourth- and eighth-graders continue to progress in mathematics and reading; and for the first time, the state’s fourth-graders have scored above that national average in math.

Achieve, a national non-partisan education reform organization, gives Hawaii high marks in its efforts to prepare students for college and careers. Achieve’s 8th annual “Closing the Expectations Gap” report praised Hawaii in several categories, including being one of only seven states that have mandatory diplomas requiring students to take the content through the level of the Common Core State Standards and College and Career Ready standards by 2016.

The Hawaii DOE and Board of Education join other education leaders in declaring their support of the Polynesian Voyaging Society's (PVS's) Worldwide Voyage through a signing of a memorandum of understanding in support of community based and sustainable education aligned with the PVS's voyaging canoes Hokulea and sister vessel Hikianalia.


Educators Laura Fukumoto (Aliamanu/Math) and Dave Morishige (Mililani Mauka/Science) win the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST). The award, announced by President Obama and the White House, is given annual to outstanding K-12 mathematics and science teachers from across the country.

The DOE announces two vendors for Oahu student bus transportation beginning with the 2014-15 school year. Contracts were awarded to Roberts Hawaii School Bus and Ground Transport, Inc. following a request for proposal process that began in July. Contracts were divided into seven clusters, and 305 school bus routes on the island of Oahu, with Roberts receiving 181 routes, and Ground the other 124.

The Hawaii Growth Model website is released to the public. This interactive website allows users to click among multiple data streams comparing the state's Complex Areas, schools and student groups, generating bubble charts that plot how those groups are faring according to two key yardsticks: Proficiency and Growth.

Contact Information

Communications and Community Affairs Office

Phone: 808-586-3230

Email: doe_info@hawaiidoe.org


Ho‘oha‘aheo newsletter cover

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

View all Ho‘oha‘aheo Newsletters

Related Downloads