Friday, October 3, 2003

Scores on SATs
worsen in isles

Poor performances by
high school students offset
gains by third-graders

Despite gains by third-graders, Hawaii's public school students generally scored worse on the Stanford Achievement Test this year than a year ago, according to results released yesterday.

Highlights of Hawaii's SAT scores

Here's how Hawaii's public school students fared in the SATs this year versus the 2002 results and the national norm. (Figures may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding.)

Grade 3

2002 Low Avg High
Math 18% 54% 29%
Reading 20% 58% 22%
2003 Low Avg High
Math 16% 54% 32%
Reading 18% 59% 23%
2003 by school:

Grade 5

2002 Low Avg High
Math 18% 47% 34%
Reading 21% 58% 21%
2003 Low Avg High
Math 20% 47% 34%
Reading 24% 56% 20%
2003 by school:

Grade 8

2002 Low Avg High
Math 25% 55% 19%
Reading 22% 54% 23%
2003 Low Avg High
Math 27% 53% 20%
Reading 26% 54% 20%
2003 by school:

Grade 10

2002 Low Avg High
Math 29% 52% 19%
Reading 31% 62% 7%
2003 Low Avg High
Math 31% 51% 18%
Reading 34% 60% 6%
2003 by school:
National norm 23% 54% 23%

Source: State Department of Education

Scores for the Hawaii State Assessment, which tracks a school's progress with the federal No Child Left Behind Act, were also released yesterday and show similar declines.

The results come as Hawaii's schools are struggling to comply with the federal law, which calls for every public school student in the nation to be proficient in English and math by 2014.

Only 91 of Hawaii's 280 public schools meet the law's criteria.

"Except for some promise shown in the elementary grades, we cannot be complacent about this year's test results," said state schools' Superintendent Pat Hamamoto. "We must intensify our efforts and reaffirm our commitment to improve academic achievement in our public schools."

High school students fared the worst on both tests. School-by-school test results were presented at a Board of Education meeting on Lanai yesterday.

Thirty-one percent of Hawaii's sophomores scored below average on the math portion of the national test, compared with 29 percent last year. Thirty-four percent scored below average on the reading portion this year, compared with 31 percent in 2002.

"We realize there is a problem in secondary schools," said state Department of Education spokesman Greg Knudsen. "It is indeed a concern. We need to look at some drastic changes at those levels."

Fewer sophomores scored above average on the test, which third-, fifth- and eighth-graders also took this spring.

Only 6 percent of sophomores got above-average scores on the reading portion of the national test, compared with 7 percent last year. On the math portion, 18.2 percent scored above average, compared with 18.6 percent last year.

The national norm for both the math and reading portions is 23 percent below average, 54 percent average and 23 percent above.

Most of the high school students who took the Hawaii assessment, which is a more rigorous test requiring students to explain their answers, had scores ranked as "approaches" proficiency standards. Scores on the Hawaii test are ranked as "well below," "approaches," "meets," or "exceeds" proficiency.

Less than 1 percent of sophomores in this year's round of testing exceeded standards in either the Hawaii assessment's math or reading portions.

Senate Education Chairman Norman Sakamoto (D, Salt Lake-Foster Village) said high school content standards need to be examined to see "what it is that we're not doing right."

"We need to bring more relevance to learning so that students aren't forced to learn it the old way," he said, adding that smaller learning communities that team up groups of students with a mentor could be a solution.

Though sophomores performed worse than their counterparts the year before, the tests' youngest takers improved their scores on the SAT across the board and in most areas of the Hawaii assessment.

Almost 32 percent of third-graders who took the national achievement test scored above the average. The percentage of those who scored below average dropped by two points from 2002.

The number of third-graders who exceeded or met standards on the Hawaii assessment test rose from the year before in both math and reading portions.

The percentage of fifth- and eighth-graders who performed poorly increased marginally on both tests.

Knudsen said it is too early to tell what the scores mean for Hawaii's schools.

"These are not the same students being tested," he said. "It's too soon to say, 'Oh, the sky is falling.'"

Knudsen said the education department will use the assessment's scores to help gauge how individual schools are doing but continue to give students the SAT to rank them against their mainland peers.


Enrollment in
schools declines

Public school enrollment in Hawaii dropped slightly this school year to 182,434 students, 364 fewer than last school year.

The number of special education students declined by 339 students to 20,469, or 11.2 percent of total enrollment, the state Department of Education said yesterday.

Charter school enrollment climbed by 34 percent to 4,502 students. Officials attributed the increase primarily to the conversion of Waimea Middle School and the rapid growth of Myron Thompson Academy, an online "virtual" school that provides instruction through the Internet.

The Leeward Oahu District remained the DOE's largest administrative area, growing by 1.5 percent to 38,827 students. Honolulu's enrollment remained virtually unchanged, and all other areas reported fewer students.

With 2,424 students, Farrington High School on Oahu is the largest public school in the state. The smallest, Keanae School on Maui, has three students.


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