Grading the Public Schools
Once again, we’ve ranked 258 public schools statewide. Do your neighborhood schools measure up? Are they getting any better?
By Ronna Bolante, with research assistance by Mila Kobayashi
Photo by Sergio Goes
Students appear to be doing better on the Hawaii State Assessment, the state’s annual standardized test, especially on the most recent test scores we used for this year’s chart. But don’t take those numbers at face value. The DOE revamped its test, which officials insist is a better reflection of the material taught to students. Some critics have complained the test has been dumbed down. In any case, it’s pointless to compare this year’s scores with previous performances.
For a more apples-to-apples comparison, consider Hawaii students’ scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress, better known as “The Nation’s Report Card.” This test, administered every other year in all 50 states, has not been overhauled. The national test shows that Hawaii’s overall scores have improved, but not nearly as dramatically as they have on the state test. What’s more, Hawaii students’ scores continue to trail national averages, with just 21 percent of our eighth graders considered proficient in math and 20 percent proficient in reading.
Other things haven’t changed at all since we published our first “Grading the Public Schools” chart. Scores still get worse as students move through the public school system—elementary schools have the highest marks while high schools score the lowest. Schools located in Hawaii’s poorest districts continue to struggle with the most dismal performances overall.
The bright spot in all of this: Some schools defy these trends. We’ve profiled two of them, Lanakila Elementary and Washington Middle. Want to know how they did it? Click on their respective links.
Here's what you'll find in the chart for each school:
A Guide to the Chart
1.Rank: This list ranks public schools by overall score, from 1 to 258.
2.District: The statewide school system is divided into seven administrative districts, including Oahu’s HONolulu, CENtral, LEEward and WINward districts; the Big Island’s HAWaii district; Maui, Molokai and Lanai’s MAUI district and the KAUai district. We’ve also noted which schools are CHarter schools, which are not considered traditional DOE schools.
3.Teachers: Percentage of teachers responding to the DOE’s 2007 School Quality Survey who strongly agree or agree with the statement “I would send my own child to this school.”
4.Parents: Percentage of parents responding to the DOE’s 2007 School Quality Survey who strongly agree or agree with the statement “I would recommend my child’s school to other parents.”
5.Students: Percentage of students responding to theDOE’s 2007 School Quality Survey who disagree or strongly disagree with the statement “If I could, I would go to a different public school.”
6.Reading: Percentage of students whose proficiency meets or exceeds Hawaii Content and Performance Standards (HCPS III) in Reading, the state DOE’s base line for determining whether schools meet academic benchmarks under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
7.Math: Percentage of studentswhose proficiency meets or exceeds Hawaii Content and Performance Standards (HCPS III) in Math, the state DOE’s base line for determining whether schools meet academic benchmarks under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
8.Score: Average of the five measures of satisfaction and student performance.
9.Letter Grade: Once we ranked the schools by overall score, we assigned a letter grade to each, grading on a curve.
ORANGE Listings indicate schools identified as failing, according to standards set by the state DOE under the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Schools must meet 29 federal benchmarks that measure test participation, achievement in reading, attendance and graduation rates. Missing any one of these criteria could result in a school’s designation as “failing.”
A Note on Incomplete Scores: All but five of the 258 schools on our chart have full scores: Keoneula, Kalihi-Kai, Kalihi-Uka, Linapuni and Mokapu Elementary. In these cases, the data was unavailable from the DOE. We have also excluded schools that were missing more than two of the five measures of satisfaction and student performance, giving us an incomplete picture of their overall performance. That includes the majority of Hawai‘i’s charter schools.
NOTE TO READERS:
We printed an incorrect version of Hawaii’s “5 Most Improved Schools” in our May 2008 issue. Here is the correct information on the five schools whose ranks have risen the most dramatically since 2006, the last time we published our “Grading the Public Schools” chart.
5 Most Improved Schools
1. Wailupe Valley Elementary (HON)
No. Spots Moved: 175 // Rank in 2006: 217 // Grade in 2006: D- // Rank This Year: 42 // Grade This Year: B+
2. Maunaloa Elementary (MAUI)
No. Spots Moved: 155 // Rank in 2006: 178 // Grade in 2006: C- // Rank This Year: 23 // Grade This Year: A-
3. Lanakila Elementary (HON)
No. Spots Moved: 129 // Rank in 2006: 145 // Grade in 2006: C // Rank This Year: 16 // Grade This Year: A
4. Pohakea Elementary (LEE)
No. Spots Moved: 95 // Rank in 2006: 210 // Grade in 2006: D // Rank This year: 115 // Grade This Year: C
5. Puohala Elementary (WIN)
No. Spots Moved: 89 // Rank in 2006: 213 // Grade in 2006: D // Rank This Year: 124 // Grade This Year: C