Sunday, August 11, 2002

eases entry

The school adopts interim
admissions rules affecting its
Maui and Big Island campuses

The changes

By Diana Leone

Kamehameha Schools announced "interim admissions changes" for its Maui and Big Island campuses that are aimed at increasing the number of applicants for the 2003-2004 school year.

The school hopes to encourage more applicants by waiving its $25 admission fee, not screening out any applicant and not requiring applicants to make a minimum score to be admitted.

In addition, residents of West Hawaii will be allowed to apply to the Hawaii Campus in Hilo, as well as to the Kapalama Campus, according to a news release yesterday.

Former Kamehameha Schools Trustee Oswald Stender said yesterday he sees the changes as potentially helpful, but that they fail to address the key question of whether preference for Hawaiian applicants will be shown.

"That was the whole issue of the Maui incident," Stender said, referring to the admission this summer of a non-Hawaiian student to the Maui campus because he scored higher than Hawaiian applicants.

"Scoring was incidental to that," Stender said. "While there were Hawaiian children who applied, they didn't score well. Now that they've waived minimum scoring, what about ethnicity?"

At what point are they going to ask whether an applicant has Hawaiian blood, Stender asked.

Kamehameha Schools said that its Hawaiian preference policy "will still be applied before applicants are admitted."

Stender, who is running for an at-large seat with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, wants to know if that means every Hawaiian applicant is admitted before non-Hawaiians.

The non-Hawaiian admission this year to the Maui campus, the first in decades, set off a firestorm of criticism from Kamehameha alumni and the Hawaiian community. People asked why the next-most qualified Hawaiian student wasn't accepted.

Kamehameha Schools has met with angry parents and alumni and is planning a statewide series of meetings on its admissions policies. That input will be used to determine admissions policies for the 2004-2005 year and beyond, said Chief Executive Officer Hamilton McCubbin.

In the Maui case, eight Hawaiian applicants were screened out in the preliminary evaluation and four more scored less than the standard of 11.5 of 25 possible points in final evaluation, McCubbin said.

Given the same situation under the interim admission guidelines, the highest-ranking Hawaiian applicant would have been offered the opening before the non-Hawaiian, he said.

The interim admissions standards announced yesterday were approved by the Kamehameha board of trustees on Thursday night, McCubbin said.

The changes affect only the current admissions cycle, which runs Aug. 15-Oct. 15 for the 2003-04 school year. They do not affect the Kapalama Campus on Oahu, which receives about 4,400 applications a year for 450 openings.

The number of applicants per opening is much smaller at the Maui and Hawaii campuses, both of which are expanding, McCubbin said.

Both the Hawaii and Maui campuses received just under 2,000 applications for all grades this year, to fill just over 600 openings per campus, said Kamehameha spokeswoman Marsha Bolson.

In 2003-2004, both the Maui and Hawaii campuses will have openings for about 40 kindergartners, 48 sixth-graders, 48 ninth-graders; and 48 10th-graders, Bolson said. Maui also will add 48 seventh-graders.

Eleventh- and 12th-grade classes will be added at both schools as 10th-graders move up. Both neighbor island campuses are going into their sixth year, Bolson said.

Kamehameha's goal for five years from now, McCubbin said, is to have 3,700 Kapalama students, 1,200 on Maui and 1,200 on Hawaii.

The interim changes were shared with the alumni association Board of Presidents, the Kamehameha Schools Board of Advisors, the Maui Campus Advisory Council, Kamehameha admissions staff, faculty and administrators from Maui and Hawaii campuses, Kapalama administrators, and others, the school said.

"Kamehameha Schools is committed to working with the community to make appropriate longer-term changes to the admissions process" with input from community meetings, McCubbin said. "These interim changes can be a starting point for that dialogue."

Na Pua President Jan Dill called the interim rules "commendable" and "a first step in what is necessary to bring the admissions policy in line with the realities of the communities and the needs of communities."

But, he said, "We still don't know what happened in Maui. We need to understand what happened, not to bring any vindictive action, but just to understand what took place. ...

"We're talking about Hawaii's kids and the potential of getting my child into Kamehameha. And if you've got a flawed admissions policy, it affects all Hawaiians."


Application fees
and test scores are out

Below are the interim admissions changes for the Maui and Hawaii campuses of Kamehameha Schools for the 2003-2004 school year, released by the school yesterday.

The changes will be in place for one year only and will not apply to the Kapalama Campus on Oahu. They are:

>> A one-time waiver of the application fee.

Kamehameha has received community feedback that the $25 application fee presents an obstacle to some families. It expects waiving the fee for one year will encourage more applications.

>> No applicants screened out at preliminary evaluation.

Applicants to the Maui and Hawaii campuses in grades 1 through 10 will not be screened out in any preliminary evaluation process, a process used at the Kapalama campus to manage the large number of applications. But since there are fewer applicants at the Maui and Hawaii campuses, the preliminary evaluation screening will be waived for those grades.

>> Suspension of the minimum-scoring threshold.

A minimum cut-off score will not be used to eliminate applicants to the Maui and Hawaii campuses in grades 1 through 10. The admissions criteria remains the same, and applicants will still be evaluated on the basis of test scores, grades, teacher recommendations and ratings by the rating committees.

>> Allow applicants from West Hawaii to apply to either the Hawaii Campus or Kapalama Campus.

Kamehameha's campuses on Maui and Hawaii are intended to serve the children and families of those islands. Residents in Kamehameha Schools' West Hawaii district (Honokaa to South Point) will be eligible to apply to either the Kapalama campus as boarders (grades 7-12) or to the Hawaii campus as day students (grades K-10).

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