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Students, teachers, parents rally for Hawaiian language tests

By Mary Vorsino

LAST UPDATED: 5:47 p.m. HST, Jan 29, 2013

Hundreds of Hawaiian immersion students, parents and teachers gathered in front of the Department of Education's headquarters today to call for the creation of standardized tests in the Hawaiian language.

Holding signs that read “No more unfair testing” and “No more pidgin Hawaiian test,” the attendees chanted, heard speeches and invited schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi to address the crowd. She did, telling attendees that she understood their message and would work toward an equitable solution.

“Right now, I don’t have a solution — not one that’s going to make everything right,” she said. “But I have an open door. I think you have a message that needs to be shared.”

Third and fourth grade students in Hawaiian immersion programs take a translated version of the Hawaii State Assessment, while older students take the English version.

Those at the demonstration were calling for the creation of a test developed in Hawaiian for all immersion students, or at the very least those in elementary school. Students in Hawaiian immersion programs begin learning English formally in fifth grade.

“We’re not saying we don’t want to be tested. We’re saying the instrument has to be appropriate,” said Kamoa‘e Walk, chairman of ‘Aha Kauleo, the statewide advisory council for the DOE’s Hawaiian language immersion program.

After the rally at the DOE building, the demonstrators moved to the state Capitol to hold signs and meet with state legislators.

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