Hawaii schools
earn higher ratings

Hawaii's public schools are doing a better job of holding students to specific performance standards than in previous years, although per-pupil spending here still falls below most other states, according to a report by Education Week.

Hawaii's Education Report Card

2004 2005
Standards and Accountability C+ B+
Efforts to Improve Teacher Quality D+ C-
School Climate C C
Resource Equity A A

Source: "Quality Counts 2004" and "Quality Counts 2005" by Education Week
Education Week gives isle public schools a B+ for standards and accountability

The state's grade for "standards and accountability" rose to a B+ this year, up from a C+ last year and a D+ in 2003, in the annual "Quality Counts" report card issued yesterday by the national education publication. Standards spell out what students should know and do at different grade levels.

"We are pleased that the grade on standards is reflecting improvement," said Department of Education spokesman Greg Knudsen. "The report cites our English, math and science standards as well rounded and specific."

Hawaii's grade for "school climate," however, remained a C, the same as last year. That grade is based in part on a survey of school administrators who called the lack of parental involvement a major problem here. They also cited concerns about absenteeism and classroom misbehavior.

Education Week surveys, researches and ranks the 50 states and the District of Columbia annually on various measures of school quality and financial support. This year's report, supported by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts, is entitled "Quality Counts 2005: No Small Change, Targeting Money Toward Student Performance."

The report pegged Hawaii's per-pupil spending at $7,326 annually, below the national average of $7,734, putting the state in 35th place among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The figures are for the 2001-2002 school year, the most recent comparative data available from the National Center for Education Statistics, an arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

The figures were adjusted for regional cost differences. Without the cost-of-living adjustment, Hawaii's per-pupil spending was listed as $7,306.

The state received its usual A grade for "resource equity" because the single statewide school district prevents disparities in district-to-district funding. Hawaii received its lowest grade, a C-, this year in "Efforts to Improve Teacher Quality," but that grade was a step up from last year's D+.

"We need to commit to paying our teachers what they deserve and to creating school climates that are friendly to students, parents and teachers," said Joan Husted, executive director of the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

The report described Hawaii's English, math and science standards as "clear and specific." It also praised the state Department of Education for including short-answer and extended-response questions along with multiple-choice items on its annual tests to assess student progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Education Week

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