Hawai'i--once in danger of losing our "Race to the Top" federal education reform grant--is now considered a "rising star" among states.
While visiting local schools last month, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan shared this praise for Hawai'i's significant progress in transforming state's public education system--further calling the state a model for the rest of the nation. He acknowledged that Hawai'i is one of the fastest improving states in the U.S.
This is extraordinary improvement in just three years.
Government That Works
Governor Neil Abercrombie
The U.S. Department of Education, in its "Year 3 Race to the Top" report, highlighted Hawai'i's accomplishments achieved between September 2012 and September 2013:
Improved scores on national benchmarks and access to more rigorous coursework and resources like advanced placement (AP) classes. (Specifically, "The Nation's 2013 Report Card" by the National Assessment for Educational Progress showed that Hawai'i's fourth- and eighth-graders were among the nation's leaders when it comes to improved progress in mathematics and reading achievement. Last year also marked the first time Hawai'i's fourth-graders surpassed the national average in mathematics.)
Progress in initiatives related to supporting teachers in leaders in "Year 3," primarily due to the ratified contract with the Hawai'i State Teachers Association in April 2013, allowing the implementation of the Educator Effectiveness System design and implementation.
Continued support and training for educators statewide as we transitioned to new college-and career-readiness standards, Hawai'i's Common Core.
Extensive supports the Hawai'i Department of Education (DOE) has put in place to turn around low-achieving schools, particularly those in the Zones of School Innovation, where community partners have played a key role in ensuring success. They include the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, Kamehameha Schools, AT&T, Hawai'i 3R's, Hawaiian Electric Industries and the Hawai'i Business Roundtable.
I am proud of the hard work and dedication of our principals, teachers, staff and students. With the leadership of our state's appointed Board of Education, we have proven that no matter how great the challenge, we can pull together to make sure Hawai'i's keiki have the opportunities they need to succeed.
I also thank the state Legislature for included funding for early learning in their respective drafts of the state budget. This shows a real commitment to continuing my administration's ongoing work to give Hawai'i's youngest students a head start by helping more children access pre-kindergarten opportunities. As a result, Hawai'i will be well positioned to compete for federal funding.
We know that the early years of a child's development are crucial in setting the foundation for behavior and lifelong learning. Investing in our children's early years will pay dividends, not only in school, but also down the road in the form of healthy and contributing adults, reduced crime and incarceration, and less dependency on social services.
We are on the right track and need to stay the course. I urge legislators to further support the Hawai'i DOE in its supplemental budget requests to continue our momentum in transforming education.
Hawai'i public schools are rising, and we are making sure they are going to keep on rising.