2016 Year in Review


There is much work to be done, but there is much to celebrate now! Here’s a rundown of impressive achievements in 2016 by our schools, educators and keiki.

2016 Year in Review

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I’d like to extend a warm mahalo to all of our administrators, teachers, staff and students for their efforts throughout the year — 2016 was a year filled with continued hard work, growth, innovation and bright spots. 

At the beginning of the year, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) had just been signed into law. We immediately worked to understand how ESSA would impact Hawai‘i and sought to use it to empower schools. In April, we kicked off an unprecedented statewide effort to solicit input for the update and extension of the Department and Board of Education’s joint Strategic Plan. After months of collaboration and incorporation of feedback, the Board adopted the 2017-2020 Strategic Plan in December. 

We celebrated multiple successes at the classroom, school and Department levels —  securing a grant to develop a statewide plan for career preparation, the opening of the highly anticipated Kailua High Natural Science Lab building and the science/STEM building at Stevenson Middle, and increasing numbers of Hawai‘i public school graduates meeting national college readiness benchmarks. 

Additionally, many partnerships that we’ve established over recent years are coming to fruition for the benefit of our students. A newly established relationship with the Hawaii Dental Association is part of a larger health and wellness effort to ensure that our students are healthy, engaged and ready to learn; and a formal agreement with the College of Engineering at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa will broaden Career and Technical Education opportunities. 

In order to maintain this positive momentum, we must continue fostering community partners in our public schools and keeping students at the heart of all of our decisions. 

Thank you for all that you have done for Hawai‘i’s public schools and our students. Please enjoy the recap below of just a few highlights and accomplishments this year, which wouldn’t have been possible without our staff and community support. 

Best wishes to all for a healthy and happy new year!


Kathryn Matayoshi


McKinley High School students and faculty honored one of its most accomplished alumni with the dedication of its library to the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye, McKinley Class of 1942. One of the items on display is Senator Inouye's high school notebook, which was preserved through the years by his mother and then by the Senator as a treasured keepsake until his passing in December of 2012.  

Waipahu High School science teacher Michael Sana was presented the prestigious 2015-16 Milken Educator Award. Regarded as the "Oscar Award of Teaching," it honors outstanding excellence in education and comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize. Sana's excellent work as Chair of the Waipahu High science department has helped to transform its science program into an ambitious college-ready platform that challenges students and boosts them towards college science careers.  


Kaimukī High students conducted important research for the University of Hawai'i's (UH) Hawaii Stream Bioassessment Protocol to assess the biodiversity of Palolo Stream and the Ala Wai Watershed. Sixteen students ranging from sophomores to seniors donned rubber boots and were led by Cory Yap, UH Environmental Researcher from the Center for Conservation Research and Training to capture suckermouth armored catfish, a troublesome invasive species that causes soil erosion and pollution in Hawaii's streams.

The Hawai'i State Board of Education (BOE) approved the adoption of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The new standards are interwoven across disciplines, including connections to language arts and mathematics. They set the following student performance expectations: Disciplinary Core Ideas (science specific concepts in the life, earth, engineering and physical sciences); Science and Engineering Practices (the practices of engaging in scientific investigation to answer questions, and engineering design to solve problems); Crosscutting Concepts (conceptual ideas common to all areas of science).


A growing number of Hawai'i's public high school students took college-level courses and earned dual credits – for both high school and college – before they graduated, according to Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education's College and Career Readiness Report (CCRI). Up to 10 percent of the Class of 2015 statewide earned college credits from UH while attending high school, up four percentage points from the Class of 2013. 

The Assessment for Learning Project announced that HIDOE's Office of Hawaiian Education was selected as one of 12 recipients to receive a portion of $2 million in grants from the organization and its partners. The winning proposal, titled "Culturally Responsive Assessment of HĀ Outcomes," looked at designing an assessment that can support a broader and culturally accurate definition of student success in Hawai'i. 

HIDOE announced it secured a $100,000 grant to develop a detailed career readiness action plan, which was an essential step to expanding economic opportunity for young people across our state. Hawai'i was among 24 states and the District of Columbia to receive a New Skills for Youth grant that includes expert technical assistance to perform a diagnostic assessment of their career preparation system and prepare for implementation of a new action plan. 


A celebration assembly at Kaunakakai Elementary marked the completion of a hybrid solar air conditioning installation project — 33 units were installed in 18 classrooms. Sixth-grader and Student Council President Leonahemaikekaimalie Crivello was commended for helping the project become a reality. NextEra Energy Hawai'i, in coordination with Maui Electric Company, partnered with HIDOE to determine cooling priorities and potential solutions for Moloka'i. The project aligns with HIDOE's heat abatement program and is based on feedback from the schools' staff, community leaders and members.

Kailua High School welcomed students, parents, and guests to its new, state of the art Natural Science Lab Building. Dedicated to the study of Microbiology and Life Sciences, the building boasts four classrooms, two computer labs and an aquaculture multiuse area. Courses that will be offered by Kailua High School in the new building include Biology, Microbiology, Natural Resources Core, Marine Science and Directed Studies Science.

Waimea High School Principal Mahina Anguay was honored as The Island Insurance Foundation's 12th annual Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award winner. The honor is given to a public school principal who is visionary, community-minded, and has an entrepreneurial spirit — qualities of leadership that Tokioka exemplified in his own company and in the business community.


Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi and Hiroshima Prefecture Superintendent Kuniaki Shimozaki signed a Statement of Intent on Education Cooperation formally acknowledging the cultural and educational benefits gained through establishing a relationship between the school districts. The agreement builds on an existing Sister-State relationship and focuses on educating for global competence.

HIDOE released its Annual Financial Audit for the 2015 fiscal year, which showed the Department continues to be fiscally responsible in its oversight of its funds. The audit looked at the combined financial data for HIDOE, the Hawaii State Public Library System and the Public Charter Schools. HIDOE's financial audit provides an objective third-party examination of the presentation of the Department's financial statements for the most recent fiscal year, coordinated by the State of Hawaii's Office of the Auditor.  


In preparation for the World Oceans Day gathering in New York on June 8, Superintendent Matayoshi and apprentice navigator Jenna Ishii met with students and educators who presented messages of Mālama Honua, which was delivered to master navigator Nainoa Thompson. About 50 students, educators and parents gathered at the Marine Education Training Center for the message presentation, which came in the form of poems, artwork, letters, oli (chant), and mele (song).   


Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School dedicated its new two-story Science & Technology Center. The facility provides state-of-the-art teaching tools for the school's sixth, seventh and eighth graders and includes three labs for Physics, Biology and Earth & Space science classes. It also features two STEM labs that can be converted into one large room with an observation deck for special events or competitions. 


President Barack Obama recognized four Hawaii teachers as recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching – Eliza Akana Yoshida (Pu'u Kukui El), Stan Mesina (August Ahrens El), Alicia Nakamitsu (Aiea High) and Bryan Silver (Kalani High). The teachers received $10,000 from the National Science Foundation and a trip to Washington D.C. to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities. 

A national report released by the ACT showed an increase in Hawai'i public school graduates meeting college readiness benchmarks. Hawai'i's Class of 2016 saw a 2-percentage point improvement in mathematics and 1-percentage point improvement in English and Science year-over-year. Approximately 10,525 Hawai'i public school graduates in the Class of 2016 took the ACT college preparedness test as juniors. 


HIDOE named its 2016 Employee, Manager and Team of the Year award winners, recognizing employees for their special and continued contributions to education and the students of Hawai'i. Honowai Elementary's Lowell Kalani Spencer was named HIDOE's 2016 Employee of the Year; Ewa Makai Middle's Francis Santa Monica, Cafeteria Manager, was named HIDOE's 2016 Manager of the Year; and the Windward District Office Autism Team was named HIDOE's 2016 Team of the Year. 

Noelani and Helemano elementary schools were recipients of the 2016 National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, which honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools based on academic excellence and progress closing the achievement gap. The two Hawaii schools were among 329 nationwide winners announced by U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr.

Hawai'i's public school students exceeded the nation in gains on the Advanced Placement Program® (AP) Exams over the year prior. AP results for HIDOE students who were tested last May show increases in the number exam takers, exams taken and scores of 3 or higher. Compared with last year, Hawai'i's public schools exceeded the nation's growth in all categories – number of exam takers, exams taken and scores of 3 or higher. 


Washington Middle School teacher Sung Man Park was named Hawai'i's 2017 State Teacher of the Year. The honor is presented annually to a classroom teacher selected from more than 11,000 educators within the Hawaii State Department of Education.  Park was among seven District Teachers of the Year and one Charter School Teacher of the Year recognized, which included Kay Beach (School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability), Luane Higuchi (Waianae Intermediate), Tracey Idica (Aiea High), Kristi Kusunoki (Kailua Intermediate), David Mireles (Kapaa High), Laurie Ann O'Brien (Keaau High), and Jennifer Suzuki (Maui Waena Intermediate).

The Nation's Report Card: 2015 Science assessment released by the National Assessment Governing Board and the National Center for Education Statistics showed Hawai‘i's fourth and eighth graders are making progress. For grade 4, the average scale score of 146 was six points higher than the score of 140 in 2009. For grade 8, the average scale score of 144 was five points higher than the score of 139 in 2009.  

The U.S. Department of Education announced that HIDOE would receive $1.5 million in School Improvement Grants. Priority schools in a number of states are recipients of the grant as part of the Elementary & Secondary Education Act. This year, Kekaha Elementary is an applicant for the part of the $1.5 million awarded to HIDOE. 


The U.S. Department of Education awarded grants to three states including Hawai‘i to improve data collection of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) students and to help identify effective practices to close achievement and opportunity gaps through data analysis. Seventy-two percent of Hawai‘i students fall under the AAPI racial and ethnic umbrella. The funding will help HIDOE better understand which subgroups are succeeding and which subgroups may need additional support.


After receiving 13 progress updates over the past 11 months, the BOE voted unanimously to adopt the updated and extended Strategic Plan with amendments to the plan. The Plan will be used to guide HIDOE from 2017-20 with implementation starting in the 2017-18 school year.

HIDOE and the College of Engineering at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (CoE-UHM) have entered into a formal partnership to create a college-focused pathway for public high school students seeking engineering majors. Under a Memorandum of Understanding, both institutions have identified requirements and necessary preparation for high school students to be accepted directly into a designated engineering major in CoE-UHM's professionally accredited program.

In an effort to provide oral health services for students who need it, HIDOE and the Hawaii Dental Association joined forces. The agencies have established a Memorandum of Agreement to promote oral health by teaching students proper dental hygiene techniques and providing information about access to free dental health services. Dentists will be visiting HIDOE first and second grade classes on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii Island.

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