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How Did Hawai‘i’s Public Schools Rank in 2016?

We’ve ranked Hawai‘i’s public schools from the best-performing to the worst, using official state Department of Education data. How does your school measure up?


Grading the Public Schools

Illustrations: Kaley McKean


FLunchboxor more than a decade, HONOLULU Magazine has been publishing a chart that ranks Hawai‘i’s public schools from best to worst. It’s always been based on official state Department of Education data—math and reading scores, and other performance measures—with a bit of our own number crunching to arrive at an overall score for each school.


When we started, this ranking wasn’t available anywhere else—a valuable, informative snapshot comparison of the performances of different schools across the state—and our annual rankings have become one of the most popular stories we publish.


GlobeThen, in 2013, the state DOE unveiled a new program called Strive HI, designed to assess the performance of schools by collecting academic measures such as math and reading scores, as well as attendance, graduation rates and other important criteria, and combining them to arrive at an overall score for each school. We replaced our own methodology with this new, more intensive one from the DOE, republishing its official rankings through this past year. 


When we began preparing for this year’s schools chart, we discovered that the state DOE is no longer ranking its schools through the Strive HI system. The reason: It’s shifting from the old No Child Left Behind Act to a new one, the Every Student Succeeds Act, which no longer requires schools be given performance classifications.


VolcanoThat meant, if HONOLULU Magazine wanted to publish a new “Grading the Public Schools” chart—and we do!—we’d have to return to crunching the numbers ourselves. Fortunately, the DOE still publishes all the raw data it previously used to create the Strive HI index scores. We rolled up our sleeves and came up with our own recipe for turning all that data into a single score for each school.


Because we don’t have the space to print every performance measure that went into each school’s score, we selected the ones we thought families and taxpayers would be most interested in, including math, science and reading scores and graduation rates. The overall score for each school still incorporates the complete list of measures, of course—to see a detailed, full performance report for an individual school, visit hawaiipublicschools.org, or, if you want to dive into the DOE’s master spreadsheet of 2015–2016 raw data, visit bit.ly/doedata.


DNATo make it easier to compare schools in an apples-to-apples way, we’ve divided the list into three sections: elementary, middle and high schools. Also, because raw-number scores can sometimes be a little unwieldy, we’ve taken the liberty of giving each school a report-card-style letter grade, A through F, based on a curve. This isn’t an official grade handed out by the DOE, but we think it’s a useful shorthand when discussing how well a school is performing.


If you’re interested in the specific formulas we used to award points to each school, click here for the wonky details!


View the Chart


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Honolulu Magazine February 2020
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