Race or not, Hawaii aims to make gains


POSTED: Thursday, March 18, 2010

“;Race to the Top”; started out as a competition for $5 billion in federal funding intended to reward states that improve student outcomes.

The Obama administration now is instilling the initiative's central tenets in its rewrite of the much-maligned federal law known as No Child Left Behind.

While NCLB was lauded for helping to narrow the so-called “;achievement gap”; between average- and low-performing students, it was faulted for labeling entire schools as failing even when only a small subset of students struggled.

“;Race to the Top”; is considered a less-Draconian approach that rewards schools for progress and seeks to replicate successful programs, even as it demands that school systems improve their teaching ranks, and quickly.

The Hawaii Department of Education sought $78 million in the first round of the competition, but was rebuffed. It will reapply in the second round in June.

Moreover, the department has incorporated the core of its “;Race to the Top”; application in its 2011-2016 strategic plan, meaning it aims to achieve the stated goals whether or not it wins the federal money.

Here are some of the goals for, according to a summary of its “;Race to the Top”; application:

» By 2014, the percentage of students that score “;proficient or above”; on the Hawaii State Assessment will increase from 65 percent to 90 percent in reading and from 44 percent to 90 percent in math.

» Hawaii students will meet or exceed the national median by 2018 on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as “;The Nation's Report Card.”;

» Hawaii's high school graduation rate will increase from 80 percent to 90 percent by 2018.

» All high school graduates will earn the “;college and career ready”; diploma by 2018 (these requirements now are part of the voluntary Board of Education Recognition Diploma).

» The rate of high school graduates going to college will increase from 50 percent to the national median of 62 percent by 2018.

» The percentage of Hawaii's working adults with a two- or four-year college degree will increase from 40 percent to 55 percent by 2025.

» The achievement gap between specific student groups and all students (as measured by proficiency in reading and mathematics, graduation rates, and college enrollment rates) will be reduced by 50 percent by 2014 and eliminated by 2018.