Wednesday, August 11, 1999

Superintendent lays out
plan for improving education

By Crystal Kua


Like a coach laying out the game plan before sending his team onto the field, state Schools Superintendent Paul LeMahieu yesterday said Hawaii can have a winning public school system by having all players huddled around helping students reach high standards.

In what was seen as a rallying cry for educational leaders to take up the standards-based reform mantle in Hawaii, LeMahieu gave the keynote address at the start of a two-day education leadership conference.

"The path ahead won't be easy," he told a packed room of superintendents, principals, administrators and community participants at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. "The work involves risks."

The first step on that road was taken recently when the Department of Education refined the content portion of the Hawaii Content and Performance Standards.

Now called the Hawaii Content and Performance Standards II, the new content standards have been broken into 10 subject area booklets and a guide book and are seen as a more user-friendly approach to setting clear yet rigorous expectations for students to achieve.

But refining the standards are just a portion of LeMahieu's plan to improve the performance of students, schools and the education system as a whole.

The game book for the next five years, the department's Standards-based Reform Strategic Plan, was also presented to conference participants and it maps out the progress of where the department is headed with reform.

Besides the refinement and implementation of standards, the plan sets the course for an assessment and accountability system, a comprehensive student support system, school governance reform and modernization of administrative support services.

Under the plan, changes could be seen in grading, report cards and graduation requirements.

Standards-based schools have shown to be successful learning environments and rewarding work places.

Schools need to examine their organization to see how to support a standards-based education, and ask, "Do all programs help to meet standards?"

What's what

The Department of Education's Standards-based Reform Strategic Plan includes:


Bullet Establish a "virtual" or interactive resource center Web site for each content areas so teachers can review and give suggestions on the development of performance standards.

Bullet Set up an optional "resource procurement" system that reviews commercial materials and negotiates "best prices" for schools.

Bullet Propose legislation or policy to enable standards implementation.

Bullet Update and revise policies, regulations, and practices to align them with standards-based system.


Bullet Develop and implement state student assessments based on Hawaii standards in reading,writing, mathematics.

Bullet Set time frame for triggering school accountability consequences. Suggestions include implementing rewards and assistance immediately with full consequences implemented following three annual improvement cycles.

Bullet Examine statewide resources such as people and money that can contribute and provide rewards, recognition and assistance; seek external funding; propose appropriate funding legislation.

Bullet Identify specific forms of consequences that schools would see as fair, inspiring and motivating.

Bullet Design how school accountability outcomes and consequences will be reported to public and parents. March 2000.

Bullet Report school accountability outcomes and change from baseline year; acknowledge schools that are improving. Beginning October 2002 and each October thereafter.

Bullet Identify and provide assistance to schools based on school accountability results. Rewards and assistance beginning October 2002 and annually thereafter. Sanctions beginning October 2004.

Bullet Develop Professional Evaluation Program for Teachers to provide annual evaluations of all teachers. 2000-01 (pilot test) and 2001-02 (statewide implementation).

Bullet Develop a plan to revise annual performance evaluations of school administrators. September 2001. For district and state administrators. September 2002.

Bullet Review current policy and regulations regarding student report cards. December 1999.

Bullet Online assessment information resource center Web site that is fully linked to standards Web site. Provides access to school staff for sample testing tools, personnel who can offer advice and feedback on classroom instruction, assessment services provided by vendors. January 2000.

Bullet Establish standards-based high school diploma. Implementation completed with the graduating class of 2004.

E-mail to City Desk

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