Thursday, August 5, 1999

New standards
raise schools’
goals, hopes

The Board of Education
expects to adopt the
program tonight

By Crystal Kua


Chad Maka beams as he points to the legend on a map he created in the shape of a hand at Nanakuli Elementary School: "Every line makes a mile."

The fourth-grader continues to explain each part of the map, directing his finger first to the legend with its landmark symbols and then to the directional arrows that show north, south, east and west.

He then turns to another wall.

"That's the standards," Chad says, directing a visitor to a chart that spells out what's expected in the map assignment. "It tells you what to do and what you can do to meet the standards or exceed the standards."

Chad's classroom is filled with examples of what he should know and be able to do, but standards such as these are virtually unknown to students, parents and education outsiders in Hawaii.

"When you're talking about standards-based instruction, you're talking about making sure that students, parents, everyone is aware what these standards are, what the expectations are," Kailua Elementary Principal Michael Harano said.

The Board of Education is set to adopt Hawaii's newly refined standards tonight.

With that endorsement comes a sense of excitement, uncertainty and hope.

In standards-based education, everyone knows up front what is expected for each grade, with the premise that all students can learn. The learning and teaching become focused because everyone is cognizant of the goals that need to be reached at each level.

State Schools Superintendent Paul LeMahieu points to the 1998 National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test scores, which show significant improvement in states that have taken the lead in standards-based reform. Hawaii was in last place.

Standards alone, however, won't do the trick in improving student achievement. The formula should also include tests to measure or assess how well the standards are being met, along with consequences when schools fail or do well, experts say.

Hawaii's entrance into the nationwide standards movement came in 1994 with the adoption of the Hawaii Content and Performance Standards.

Known as "the blue book" among local educators for the color of its cover, it is a 400-page document with 1,544 content and performance standards.

But the blue book has for the most part been ignored, mainly because it was difficult to work with.

A commission looked over the original Hawaii Content and Performance Standards last year and issued a report in January that said the blue book was not user-friendly and the standards were vague, broad and redundant.

Even national standards graders had consistently given Hawaii low marks for its original standards, with a D+ and D- as grades.

Hawaii's revised standards have won praise, though.

"It's so much more usable now and it provides a nice framework," said Kaye Forgione, director of the Academic Standards Program at the Council for Basic Education, another Washington-based group that has graded standards but now mainly offers technical assistance to states in reviewing and developing standards. It helped Hawaii do just that.

The result of the refinement is being called Hawaii Content and Performance Standards II, which was unveiled last week. For parent Pamela Barklow of Kauai, the refined standards give her hope that her 10th-grade son, Andrew, and other Hawaii public students won't have to take remedial courses when they get to college.

"It assures me when we get this whole system in place, that my son will have the skills and the knowledge he needs to do whatever he wants," Barklow said. "I'm really excited. I think standards are the way to go."

Hawaii businessman David Rolf, a frequent critic of the old standards, said: "The standards are just the beginning. It will have no value unless you put in place a strong testing system and it requires a straightforward and clear system of consequences."

"This is a positive framework but the key is a rigorous curriculum," Rolf said.

The DOE's Planning and Evaluation Group is charged with developing an assessment and accountability system to measure student performance and determine whether assistance, rewards or sanctions are in order for schools that do well or poorly.

Group director Michael Heim said the accountability system will likely include a statewide assessment for students in grades 3, 5, 8 and 10. Performance will also be measured at the school and classroom level.

Student assessment for math, reading and writing should be in place by 2001, he said.

John Friedman, president of the Hawaii State Parent, Teacher, Student Association, said one of the tasks at hand will be educating parents and the public about standards-based learning.

Original vs. revised

There are two types of standards: content and performance. The Council for Basic Education says a content standard defines what a student should know and do while a performance standard defines how good is good enough. Here are excerpts from the Hawaii Content and Performance Standards approved in 1994 vs. the revised standards*.






Cultural Anthropology - Primary Level
Content Standards: Culture and diversity of the people of Hawaii and the United States
Performance Standards:
Bullet Identify commonalities and differences among cultures.
Bullet Show ways that language, arts and literature are essential parts of culture.
Bullet Compare ways that various ethnic groups address similar issues.
Demonstrate knowledge of their ethnic background.
Bullet Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of ethnic background and understand the uniqueness of other ethnic groups and how their diversity lends to making up a healthy neighborhood.



Cultural Anthropology
Cultural Diversity and Unity Content Standard:
Bullet Students understand and respect the myriad of ways that society addresses human needs and wants.
Related Grades K-3 Benchmark:
Bullet Describe and distinguish among values, beliefs and practices of different groups and demonstrate the ability to view situations through the eyes of others.


Writing and Composition - Elementary Level
Content Standards:
Bullet Conventions of standard English writing: spelling, punctuation, grammatical forms.
Performance Standards:
Bullet Understand and use conventions of standard English writing (e.g. spelling, punctuation, grammatical forms) in editing own and others' writing.
Bullet Demonstrate manuscript and cursive lettering.
Bullet Use dictionary and thesaurus in the editing process.
Bullet Use elements of author's craft to write interesting and cohesive sentences and paragraphs.



Convention and Skills Content Standard:
Bullet Apply knowledge and understanding of the conventions of language and research when writing.
Related Grades 4-5 Benchmarks:
Bullet Apply knowledge of spelling, punctuation and grammar to write text(s) and correct errors.
Bullet Cite sources used in gathering information.


Living Organisms - Intermediate Level
Content Standards:
Bullet Types of organisms
Bullet Similarities and differences
Bullet Classifications based on their characteristics and traits
Performance Standards
Bullet Compare and contrast similarities and differences among organisms within their molecular structures.
Bullet Show how many of an organisms functions are carried out at the cellular level using living and nonliving matter.
Bullet Demonstrate the understanding of an organizational hierarchy that allows for multi-cellular organisms to have a division of labor.



Unity and Diversity Content Standard:
Bullet Students examine the unity and diversity of organisms and how they can be compared scientifically.
Related Grades 6-8 Benchmarks:
Bullet Compare and contrast the body structures of organisms that contribute to their ability to survive and reproduce.
Bullet Assess the degree of relatedness among selected organisms based on its similarities found in internal anatomical features.


Content Standards:
Bullet Functions and relationships
Performance Standards:
Bullet Identify patterns found in nature
Bullet Use functions to model real-
world phenomena
Bullet Represent and analyze relationships using tables, verbal rules, graphs and equations.
Bullet Translate among tabular, graphic and symbolic representations of functions.



Patterns, Functions and Algebra Content Standard:
Bullet Students understand various types of patterns and functional relationships.
Related Grades 9-12 Benchmarks:
Bullet Describe and use advanced functions (e.g. absolute value, piece-
wise defined, step, trigonometric, logarithmic, exponential, polynomial).
Bullet Analyze and use linear relations among three variables.
Bullet Analyze and use quadratic relations between two variables.

*Performance standards are not yet completed.
Source: DOE


E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin