Isle schools don't fit real life
A study finds Hawaii's system fails to match curriculum to work or university demands
Hawaii's education system fails to put high school standards in line with real-world expectations, according to a report released today.
The study said Hawaii has not tried to make its curriculum meet the demands of the workplace or the requirements of universities. It was conducted by Achieve Inc., a bipartisan, nonprofit organization designed to raise state education standards.
Hawaii is one of 15 states that doesn't have plans to coordinate high school studies with the needs of employers and colleges, the report said.
"They have not made a priority of aligning high school expectations with college or the workplace," said Matt Gandal, executive vice president at Achieve. "We're trying to make sure what students are learning is sufficient for the opportunities later in life."
The study focused on five areas: a comparison of high school standards with real-world expectations, alignment of high school graduation requirements with colleges and jobs, use of high school tests for college admissions, new systems to track students' performance after high school, and how high schools are held accountable.
Hawaii's high schools showed no progress in any of those areas, according to Achieve.
The study did not look at test scores or dropout rates. Instead, it compared whether state education departments had policies in place to meet the criteria.
Information for the state-by-state comparison was gathered from a survey sent to education departments around the country.
Greg Knudsen, spokesman for the Hawaii Department of Education, said the state's high schools are doing a good job of giving students a meaningful diploma.
"All of our Hawaii content standards are done with the purpose of preparing our students," he said. "We do have pretty demanding basic graduation requirements, which are more demanding than most states."
Hawaii's schools are in the process of making it easier for teachers at different levels of education to coordinate their efforts, said Kathy Jaycox, executive director for the P-20 Initiative, which aims to streamline education from kindergarten through college.
"The reality of the 21st century is that the expectations of employers are pretty much identical to the expectations of college admissions people," Jaycox said. "We want to improve across the board, so the gap is getting smaller, not larger."
The study also showed that out of every 100 Hawaii high school freshmen, only 12 graduate from college on time. The national average is about 18 out of every 100 freshmen.