Tuesday, January 8, 2002

Hawaii schools’
report card improves

Education Week gives the state
slightly better grades for
resources and teacher quality

By Crystal Kua

Hawaii's grades for teacher quality and adequacy of funding in an annual national education report card have improved slightly.

Education Week's "Quality Counts 2002" -- in its sixth year -- gave Hawaii a C- for improving teacher quality, up from a D last year.

The grade for teacher quality improved because Hawaii now provides a financial incentive for teachers to earn national board certification, which it did not have previously, and has one more teacher than last year who is nationally board-certified.

Hawaii also received credit for the state funding teacher professional development.

Hawaii also received a B- for adequacy of resources, up from last year's C, mainly because the amount the state spends on education per pupil is now $6,409, up from last year's amount of $6,020.

The U.S. average is $7,079 per pupil.

Grades remained the same in two areas: resource equity with an A and standards and accountability with a D-.

Hawaii has consistently received an "A" in equity because Hawaii has a single-district public school system.

Education Week, which uses the American Federation of Teachers standards criteria in determining whether standards are clear and specific, said that the math standards are the only ones that are clear and specific for all grades.

State officials have maintained that the low grades are due to Hawaii's system of standards, testing and accountability not being fully implemented.

The teachers strike canceled the Department of Education's planned roll-out of a new state testing program last spring, but the department plans to do it this spring.

A group of public school stakeholders recently completed a final report on the design of a new accountability system.

Quality Counts focused this year on early childhood education, but noted that Hawaii had been busy with the teachers contract dispute, a worsening budget picture and a federal court order related to special-needs students, and has not put early education high on the its priority list.

Efforts, however, have been geared in that arena to the most disadvantaged children like in the state's Pre-Plus program to provide early education access to low-income and special-needs 3- and 4-year-olds.

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