Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Hawaii State Seal

State seeks input
on school standards

A group's proposal looks at
measuring 3 core standards
of accountability

By Treena Shapiro

The state Department of Education has launched community dialogues on a systemwide accountability program for Hawaii's public schools.

A proposal, put together by a group of stakeholders in public education, is geared toward measuring three core standards that could be used to evaluate how well the public education system is performing: student academic achievement; safety and well-being; and life skills. Students, teachers, principals and schools would share in the responsibility for meeting the standards.

Karen Aka, a partner in the Accord Group, contracted by the state to facilitate the effort to design a school accountability program, said community input is needed to determine the consequences for meeting or missing the standards.

The group offered possible consequences, ranging from rewards to sanctions meant to "inspire and motivate people to improve and get into a continuous mode of improvement," Aka said. Examples include monetary awards, public recognition, mandatory assistance and termination or expulsion.

However, the state still lacks the means to measure whether the standards are being met, Aka said. The group will recommend that evaluations are designed to match the standards already set by the department.

One challenge will be finding a way to measure whether each group is meeting its standards, especially those that seem to have no quantitative measure, such as a teacher's responsibility to design and provide meaningful learning experiences.

"I think that in order to hold anybody accountable for anything, there will have to be a solid measure against that accountability," said John Friedman, a parent member of the collaborative.

"There's a combination of specific goals and outcomes that you would want to measure someone's progress by," he said.

But at the same time, Friedman said the group needs to be careful not to be too detailed in its suggestions on how to reach the outcomes.

"How people reach those levels may be very different in many different circumstances," he said.

David Rolf, a proponent for content-based instruction, said he will testify at a hearing tomorrow on how the current standards cannot be measured.

"The standards are a rope of smoke," he said. "They're Jell-O nailed to the wall. They're the exact opposite of standards."

Rolf pointed out that nothing is quantified in the standards.

"It's like having a weights and measures scale with no numbers," he said.

To give input on standards

The state Department of Education will be holding a series of public meetings to solicit feedback on proposed statewide school accountability standards. The meeting times and dates are as follows:

>> Tonight, Kealakehe High School cafeteria, Kona, 7 to 9 p.m.
>> Tomorrow, Washington Middle School cafeteria, Oahu, 7 to 9 p.m.
>> Monday, Maui Waena Intermediate School cafeteria, Maui, 7 to 9 p.m.
>> Tuesday, Hilo Intermediate School cafeteria, Hilo, 7 to 9 p.m.
>> Nov. 26, Lanai High and Elementary School Cafeteria, Lanai, 6 to 8 p.m.
>> Nov. 28, Kaunakakai Elementary School cafeteria, Molokai, 7 to 9 p.m..

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