Monday, November 30, 2015         


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Race to the top blueprint


Just what has Hawaii's Department of Education promised in exchange for its four-year, $75 million award from the federal government? The state's Race to the Top application is an ambitious blueprint for the DOE -- affecting 288 public schools and more than 182,000 students -- that ranges from student assessments, to teacher and leader evaluations, to focusing on low-performing schools.

Below is the executive summary of the DOE's five-point plan for success; for more, see the department's website at

I. Standards and assessments: Tying high-quality college- and career-ready standards and assessments to a statewide curriculum.


Hawaii has joined 48 other states in committing to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, a state-led process to develop internationally benchmarked K-12 standards in English language arts and mathematics that will prepare all students for college and career.


DOE seeks to improve the quality of its comprehensive assessment system by continuing to ensure the rigor of its academic and proficiency standards and improving its suite of assessment tools. To that end, beginning in the 2010-11 school year, Hawaii State Assessments in reading, mathematics, and science will be administered online instead of with paper-and-pencil test booklets.

An online field test in all three subjects was conducted Feb. 16-May 26, 2010. Additional enhancements include developing the Data for School Improvement system -- a rich bank of formative assessment items and an online repository of standards-aligned materials -- and internationally benchmarking performance through the SMARTER-Balanced Assessment Consortium.

These steps will assist in the development of common comprehensive assessments that can be used as state, district and school accountability instruments.

How will DOE ensure a smooth transition to enhanced standards and high-quality assessments? It will not be easy. Hawaii faces the challenge of full and faithful implementation of high expectations for all students -- especially for struggling students and schools. The following six steps have been identified to guarantee that all students successfully meet the standards:

» Roll out the K-12 Common Core Standards in English language arts and mathematics, including statewide implementation of a consistent common core curriculum and high-quality, aligned instructional materials and resources.

» Align high school graduation requirements and assessments with college-readiness requirements and state STEM goals, in cooperation with the UH System and private colleges and universities, coordinated by Hawaii's P-20 partnerships for education.

» Analyze the capacity of schools to ensure equitable access to the internationally benchmarked expectations, standards, and graduation requirements, and develop a plan to act on those capacity gaps.

Develop, identify, or acquire, and implement high-quality formative and interim assessments.

» Develop or acquire and deliver high-quality professional development to support the transition to the common core state standards.

» Modify statewide response-to-intervention programs to prevent academic failure and remediation for all students and especially high-need students.

II. Data systems: Improving longitudinal data collection and use.

Thanks to years of ongoing system improvements, DOE currently has the capacity to access and use historical and longitudinal data for all students. In fact, Hawaii now meets 11 of the 12 elements of the America COMPETES Act, and aims to fulfill the final element in Fall 2010.

While DOE has been collecting robust sets of longitudinal data for decades, the state's Common Education Agenda intentionally puts data collection front and center by enhancing data collection from preschool through postsecondary to enable further analyses and smarter decision making.

Making data-driven decisions to improve student achievement:

By July 2010, DOE will be positioned to provide rapid-time data to educators and instructional leaders to inform instructional strategies, management decisions, and program decisions. Here's a closer look at how data can be used:

» Teachers: To increase available tools for teachers, including access to the Data for School Improvement (DSI) system, which contains a bank of formative assessments in English language arts and mathematics standards and benchmarks. This will assist teachers with differentiating instruction based on student performance. It also will give them access to grade-level curricula, aligned to common core standards, and linked to model lessons, differentiated instruction, and extended learning scenarios.

» Administrators and leaders: To help inform critical decision-making processes through the use of clear dashboards that will include a diverse set of indicators such as at-risk and early warning, on-track for graduation, teacher-student performance, and STEM cohort performance.

» DOE administrators: To provide guidance and improve the effectiveness of teachers, principals, and programs through an intentional and informed process of allocating resources and managing performance.

» Researchers: To increase access to data through a formalized partnership known as the Hawaii Partnership for Educational Research Consortium -- with the aim of pursuing research to improve instruction that leads to increased student success.

III. Great teachers and leaders: Cultivating, rewarding, and leveraging effective teaching and leading.

Teachers have the greatest impact on student success in the classroom, while principals have a significant impact on teachers' ability to deliver instruction effectively. That's why, in Race to the Top, key stakeholders -- including the state Legislature, teachers union, principals union and DOE -- agree that principal and teacher effectiveness performance measures, which recognize gains in student learning, should be designed and immediately scaled up in a fair and reliable way.

Over the next couple of years, Hawaii's goal is to implement performance evaluation systems based on a mixture of the following:

» Vertically scaled Hawaii State Assessment (HSA).

» End-of-course exams; and Interim assessments for grades K-12 in English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

Student gains matter. To demonstrate their commitment to student success, DOE and the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) have agreed to negotiate how educators will be evaluated, guided by the following criteria:

» 50 percent based on student learning gains from the HSA, end-of-course exams, and interim assessments.

» 50 percent based on teacher practice as rated by multiple observers; stakeholder satisfaction; teacher knowledge and skills as measured by professional growth; and school-based leadership and service.

Similarly, a new principal evaluation also will be negotiated with the Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA). It will be based on:

» Student learning; school-wide student growth as measured by the HSA and student success in transitions.

» Supplemental measures:

-- Promotion of a positive climate for learning and an atmosphere of caring and respect for all students and members of the school community.

-- Leadership in school and instructional improvement based on observations by complex area superintendents, peers and trained observers; and evidence of attracting, developing, and retaining high proportion/numbers of effective teachers.

-- High standards of professionalism: principal's knowledge and skills.

-- Management of full scope of administrator responsibilities: managerial skills.

Complementary to these efforts, DOE plans to ramp up embedded professional development opportunities and adopt a more sophisticated approach to classify teacher effectiveness.

In an effort to cultivate the best educators and deploy them in the state's neediest locations, DOE plans to provide highly qualified teachers working in Zones of School Innovation with $3,000 and highly effective principals with $10,000. All highly effective teachers will be offered a 20 percent increase in pay. Finally, the state will work to fully leverage its effective teachers through the increased use of distance learning collaborations.

Hawaii is serious when it comes to fostering great teachers and leaders. And, students will be the ultimate beneficiaries.

IV. Turning around the lowest-achieving schools: Providing targeted support to struggling schools and students.

DOE strives to provide all public school students with the education they need and deserve, and DOE is committed to ensuring that its lowest-performing schools improve dramatically. How? The state has created a three-pronged plan that will work in tandem with complex area superintendents to transform the lowest-performing schools. Specifically, DOE will:

» Create the Office of Strategic Reform (OSR) and identify a turnaround partner to help Priority Schools and Zones of School Innovation (ZSI) Schools;

» Establish conditions for success in the ZSIs by implementing "Reform Action Plans" and providing additional operational, curricular, and family/student supports;

» Monitor implementation and evaluate intervention efforts to identify successful practices that might be replicated in other schools and complex areas.

Today, there are currently 3,257 students enrolled in the state's six "Priority Schools" -- the state's lowest-performing 5 percent -- and nearly 11,000 students enrolled in schools that occupy ZSIs -- comprised of the six Priority Schools, plus eight neighboring or feeder schools. DOE is determined to make a difference for those students by turning itself around first, to effectively facilitate turnaround strategies across Hawaii's struggling schools.

These turnaround efforts will impact ZSI students and their families by:

» Increasing early childhood education support through subsidies aimed at helping young children enter kindergarten ready for success.

» Providing resources to extend learning opportunities through a longer school day and school year.

» Expanding student engagement efforts to identify students at risk of dropping out. Programs such as New Tech High and other STEM initiatives will be enhanced.

» Enhancing comprehensive supports that address specific barriers to learning and other nonacademic issues that have a bearing on student success.

V. A shared vision for getting the job done: Aligning organizational functions to support reform outcomes.

DOE is poised to reconfigure itself to align with the major elements of its Race to the Top education reform plan. Successful reconfiguration requires DOE to change how it approaches human resource management, information technology, curriculum, student support, resource allocation and performance management to support the reforms advanced in Race to the Top. But this reconfiguration is bigger than DOE -- it will ultimately impact the future of Hawaii's keiki.


In Hawaii, a state impacted by its geographic isolation and challenged by its archipelago profile, tight-knit, close communities are the norm. To achieve transformational and sustainable change in education, community support must be broadened by developing a shared understanding and vision for student success.

Building community support is an ongoing process. That said, numerous notable community commitments have been secured. Major commitments include:

» The HSTA and HGEA, which together represent teachers and principals statewide, have committed to negotiate with the state to attain the goals of Race to the Top.

» Hawaii's public schools (257 noncharter and 31 charter schools) and community partners are committed to ensuring positive outcomes for all students.

» Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education is a statewide partnership led by the Good Beginnings Alliance, DOE, and the UH System that works to improve Hawaii's education outcomes. Members of the Hawaii P-20 Council, including legislative, business, early education,

» Kamehameha Schools (KS) is committed to working with the DOE to close the achievement gap for native Hawaiian students. In 2008-09, KS invested $24.9 million to support DOE efforts with Hawaiian Focused Charter Schools, and has committed to continuing its support for programs serving communities with native Hawaiian students. This support includes programs such as New Tech High Project based at Nanakuli and Waianae high schools.

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