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New Online Data Tools Changing the Way Hawaii’s Public School Students Learn

New tech tools are allowing teachers to tailor their lesson plans to individual students more than ever.


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What’s this new Strive HI Performance System?
Essentially, the Strive HI Performance System replaces Adequate Yearly Progress, the pass/fail measure under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

As Lyndsay Pinkus, chief of staff for the Department of Education’s Deputy Superintendent, put it, AYP used test scores like a thermometer to let you know if something is wrong. Strive HI, by contrast, is a full diagnostic exam, Pinkus says.

Under NCLB, each school’s status hinged on its Adequate Yearly Progress scores, based primarily on how students scored on the Hawaii State Assessment. Under that system, even schools that showed significant improvement could be sanctioned if they missed the minimum proficiency requirements.

Strive HI still looks at test scores—this is school, after all. But schools also are rated on whether students are showing growth in learning over time, whether schools are closing the achievement gaps between different student populations and whether high school seniors are graduating ready for college and careers.

What happened to No Child Left Behind?
NCLB, a federal mandate to have all students up to grade-level in reading and math by this year, does still exist, but Hawaii has been granted a waiver that gives the state more flexibility to implement its own reform efforts. States without a waiver still have to meet one of the most controversial parts of NCLB — getting all students in the nation up to grade-level in reading and math this year.

Can parents use the Strive HI rankings to determine which schools are the best for our children?
If you’re just looking for a straight ranking you can easily see where schools fall according to the DOE, and pick a school accordingly. The DOE awards schools up to 400 points depending on how well students are performing on tests, whether students are showing growth in learning over time, whether they’re being prepared for college and careers and whether they’re closing achievement gaps.

Within those rankings, schools fall into five categories, with recognition at the top, followed by continuous improvement, focus, priority and Superintendent’s zone.

Keep in mind that schools fall into categories by percentages. Only 5 percent of schools can be recognition schools. By that same token, the lowest 5 percent of schools will always have to be placed in the priority category.

What does it mean if my school is a focus school?
Simply put, a focus school is one that falls into the bottom 5 to 15 percent of the state’s public schools, characterized by low student performance, low graduation rates and broad achievement gaps between disadvantaged and other students. Focus schools can expect the DOE to step in with more intervention and involvement, including targeted support for teachers.

What’s happening with teacher evaluations?
The new Educator Effectiveness System has replaced the old teacher evaluation system this year, but there won’t be consequences from the evaluations until it’s fully in effect, starting July 1, 2015.

Teacher evaluations were a sticking point in contentious contract negotiations between the state and the Hawaii State Teachers Association, but the 12,500-strong teachers’ union last April ultimately ratified a contract that allows for evaluations based in part on student performance.

HSTA President Wil Okabe said in a statement, “The HSTA and its members agree that student input should be one of the many sources of data that contribute to enhancing the practice of teaching. We continue to work with the DOE and our members to improve the Educator Evaluation System so that it can best accomplish its goal of providing the best learning environments for our students.”

Teachers will be evaluated as highly effective, effective, marginal or unsatisfactory. Based on those ratings, teachers could see salary increases, receive more professional development or interventions, or face termination.

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