Audit finds no evaluation of Hawaiian Education Act
Poor oversight of a $30 million federal education program for native Hawaiians makes it impossible to measure its benefit to students, a U.S. government audit has found.
A report by the Government Accountability Office blamed the U.S. Department of Education for failing to evaluate the Native Hawaiian Education Act and criticized the state's Native Hawaiian Education Council and Island Councils for its implementation.
The act was established in 1988 to assist native Hawaiians because they tend to score below the norm in standardized tests in all grades and are underrepresented in college.
But the GAO report, citing a lack of data, said it could not attribute recent gains in preschool enrollment and high school and college graduation among Hawaiians to more than 100 grants awarded through the act to more than 30 organizations in the state from 2002 to 2007.
"We did not find any impact evaluations, studies, or other types of research linking activities under NHEA to changes in native Hawaiian educational outcomes," the report said.
Colin Kippen, executive director of the Native Hawaiian Education Council, praised the report. The council, which has long complained about being ignored by the Education Department, asked Hawaii Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka to push for the GAO review, Kippen said.
The Education Department has not evaluated the act because of its relatively small cost, according to the report released Tuesday.
Kippen said that although he understands the Education Department has larger federal programs to manage, he contends the department has not shared data compiled by grant-winning organizations, preventing the council from prioritizing needs in the Hawaiian community.
He said that explains why the council was unable to make recommendations for future use of grants and only recently filed required annual reports as noted in the audit.
"We've been telling them, 'Look, we want to do our job, and we need the data,'" he said. "I do believe that this report will change that."
In its reply to the report, the Education Department said it would improve how it tracks and rates grants, and work more closely with the council.
Kippen said he has already noticed progress that will allow administrators to document the success of several programs funded by the act from preschool through college, including Hawaiian-language immersion, reading and math instruction, curriculum development and scholarships.
"So, in the future, when you ask what is Hawaiian education and how are we doing it, you'll see one picture," he said. "You need to know that they are successful and why they are successful."
Friday, March 28, 2008
» An audit by the Government Accountability Office discovered poor federal oversight of the Native Hawaiian Education Act. Originally, this story incorrectly said the report was done by the General Accountability Office.