From Midweek:

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz has announced his choice of 15 Hawaii teens for his 2015 Seniors Internship Program, based out of his Honolulu office.

The list includes Kaiser High senior Sharissa Miyasato, the only public school intern from the Honolulu District, and Niu Valley resident Aina Katsikas of Sacred Hearts Academy. The girls join seven other public school seniors and six from private schools throughout the state. They were selected based on community involvement, diversity of interests and demonstrated leadership qualities.

Read more at Midweek

It's not the kind of headline you'd expect to hear.  Undoubtedly, many still cling to the notion that Hawaii's public schools are subpar.  For those looking for a national comparison, check out .  According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Hawaii -- the state that in the 1990's lagged its peers -- is now equal to or better than the national average in several categories.  

The data below were pulled from the website above by using the drop-down menu and selecting Hawaii.

Assessment   Average Scale Score   Achievement Level  
Subject Grade Year   State National
  at or above
  Avg. SE Avg. SE   Pct. SE Pct. SE Pct. SE  
Mathematics 4 2013   243 (0.8) 241 (0.2)   83 (0.8) 46 (1.3) 9 (0.7)  
    2011   239 (0.7) 240 (0.2)   80 (0.8) 40 (1.0) 6 (0.5)  
  8 2013   281 (0.8) 284 (0.2)   72 (1.0) 32 (1.1) 7 (0.6)  
    2011   278 (0.7) 283 (0.2)   68 (0.9) 30 (0.9) 6 (0.4)  
Reading 4 2013   215 (1.0) 221 (0.3)   62 (1.3) 30 (1.2) 7 (0.7)  
    2011   214 (1.0) 220 (0.3)   59 (1.2) 27 (1.1) 6 (0.7)  
  8 2013   260 (0.8) 266 (0.2)   71 (1.0) 28 (1.1) 2 (0.5)  
    2011   257 (0.7) 264 (0.2)   68 (1.2) 26 (1.1) 2 (0.4)  
¹Accommodations were not permitted for this assessment.
# Rounds to zero.
† Not applicable.
Note: Standard Errors (SE) are shown in parentheses.
Higher than National public
Not significantly different from National public
Lower than National public
A quick reading is clear.  Hawaii's scores are rising, and we're not significantly different than the rest of the nation in mathematical achievement.  We have a similar proportion of public school elementary and middle school students at or above the basic level in mathematics, and -- surprisingly to those not following Hawaii's public schools closely -- we EXCEED the nation in fourth grade mathematics.  In this category, our students measuring above proficient is statistically higher than the nation.
On reading, we still have work to do.  While our scores for both fourth grade and eighth grade students performing at an advanced level is no different than the nation, the percentage of Hawaii students at or above the basic level continues to lag.  Here too, there is hope.  In a two year span, both the fourth and eighth grade scores rose 3 percentage points.  Another surprising note is that scores rose from fourth to eighth grade, suggesting that Hawaii's keiki may simply have a different learning path.
To be sure, I'm not too impressed thus far by the quality of NAEP testing, but it is one of the few indicators we have of how our students compare to the rest of the Nation.  I think there is much more to be said of Hawaii's education, and one that I appreciate is that our system is statewide: the only one in the entire Nation.  We don't have the same level of gross inequality, where richer districts somehow are able to reserve more resources per child than those in less advantaged areas.  Ours is, after all, the only one funded by state, not local, government.


Hahaione Elementary School will be bidding Aloha to Ms. Cindy GIorgis at the end of the 2014 Calendar Year.  The Hawaii Department of Education has announced her replacement, Mr. Shannon Goo, current principal at Lincoln Elementary School.  He begins his new job at Hahaione on January 9, 2015.  Welcome, Mr. Goo and happy retirement, Ms. Georgis!

What is the optimal rate of math or English proficiency for any public school?  Public school proficiency arguably shouldn't be 100 percent.  The problem with 100 percent proficiency is the price of collecting those last percentage points.  It is, after all a public school, a democratic right and one in which no one is denied admission.  To chase those last few percentage points would be prohibitively expensive and would deprive those meeting proficiency from advancing yet further.

Taking the other view however, it really shouldn't be as low as the Hawaii Department of Education scores for the 2013-2014 school year.  Only 18 of 47 schools had 75 percent or more of students proficient in reading, and only three schools had 75 percent or more of students proficient in math.

Below is a chart of middle school scores from of what is being called the bridge assessment, a period of transition from the Hawaii State Assessment (HSA) to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) based test.  Horizontal lines have been inserted at the 25%, 50%, and 75% tiers

 2013-14 Hawaii middle school math and reading ranking

Data Source: 2013-14 Strive HI Master Data File(.xlsx file) Hawaii Department of Education


The PDF format is attached below.

Download this file (20132014-hawaii-middle-school-math-english-ranked.pdf)2013-14 Hawaii middle school rankings for math and reading[2013-14 Hawaii middle school rankings for math and reading]40 kB

Sometimes I think transparency in Hawaii is literal: you can't see it.  These data come from the Hawaii Department of Education website out of a link that I only seem to be able to access by using special filters in the Google search engine to unearth.  It does not seem to be part of the main menu.  In any case, because of the manner in which DOE manipulates the overall Strive performance index, I thought you might like to see how some of the raw data stack up.  For parents interested in which schools have students performing well on the ACT college readiness assessment, here's the breakdown of the top eight public middle schools in Hawaii.


  2013-14 College Preparedness  
  Top Middle Schools for 8th Grade ACT Testing  
  % Scoring at or Above
  15 on 8th Grade ACT (%)
1 Niu Valley Middle 75
2 Kaimuki Middle 74
3 (tie) Moanalua Middle 67
3 (tie) Mililani Middle 67
5 Aliamanu Middle 65
6 (tie) Kawananakoa Middle 63
6 (tie) Kailua Intermediate 63
6 (tie) Waikoloa El & Middle 63


Source: 2013-14 Strive HI Master Data File (.xlsx file)