Panel's report recommends 7 areas for DOE to improve


POSTED: Thursday, October 15, 2009

School officials need to focus on teacher development, fostering environments where staff members collaborate to improve teaching, and allowing students to take control of their own education, according to a new report on the Department of Education's performance standards.

The same report found the Department of Education also met 11 of 12 recommendations in a review of the 2006 performance standards.

The Performance Standards Review Commission released its report yesterday to the Board of Education's Committee on Curriculum, Instruction & Student Support, which recommended approval by the full board. Once approved, the report will be sent to the Legislature.

Jane Schumacher, chairwoman of the review commission, said the commission came up with seven recommendations in the report by interviewing personnel at three Hawaii schools and surveying students.

“;We want to produce a report that's doable and we want to do this with depth rather than breadth, and we want to see change based on what children need,”; she said. “;It puts students first.”;

She said if the department carries out the report's recommendations, it could have a positive impact on children's learning, rather than the comfort of adults.

For example, the report suggests the department provide for professional development for teachers that focuses on building professional learning communities. While interviewing school staff, the panel found teachers at successful schools fostered the professional learning communities, which are supportive environments for students.

“;As a group, the teachers believe so powerfully in their ability to make positive change for the children that that translates into increased student achievement because the children feel it,”; she said.

The report also found students want to be responsible for their own learning, establish their own goals and monitor their progress. Students also said strong relationships with their teachers help them learn.

The seven recommendations in the newest report included using a database to help students set goals and administrators monitor their progress.

Maggie Cox, committee chairwoman, said the department is already working on some things in the report, but it is a good reminder of the department's priorities. The report is produced every four years.