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Hawaii DOE’s ‘Race to the Top’ grant cleared from high-risk status

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The Hawaii State Department of Education this morning received word from the U.S. Department of Education that its Race to the Top grant is no longer considered “high-risk” and is in good standing.  

In a news release issued by the state DOE, Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said: “This is great news that validates the good work that’s been done by the teachers, educational leaders and our community partners.” She continued, “The transformation of our public schools is in full swing. We are staying the course in our mission to ensure all students graduate from our public schools prepared for college and careers.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent a letter to Gov. Neil Abercrombie today informing him of the progress that Hawaii has made.

In August 2010, Hawaii was awarded a four-year $75 million Race to the Top  grant. In December 2011, however, Hawaii was placed on high-risk status. The state DOE has spent two years making progress toward clearing Hawaii from the high-risk status.

Prior to today’s announcement, the state DOE was removed from high-risk status in two of its “Assurance Areas,” including “B (Standards and Assessments) and C (Data Systems).” Until today, the high-risk status remained in effect for “Assurance Areas A (System Alignment and Performance Monitoring), D (Great Teachers, Great Leaders), and E (Turning Around Persistently Low-Achieving Schools).”

Today’s announcement of total removal of high-risk allows Hawaii to continue its Race to the Top reform efforts through September 2014 when the grant officially ends.

Key improvement areas in the state DOE’s transformation efforts include:

i Educators, administrators and teachers have stepped up tracking of students to ensure all graduate from high school as college- and career-ready.

i Worked with union partners to formalize new evaluation systems for teachers and principals.

i Improved communication both internally and externally. Earlier this month, the DOE launched its new website and is in the process of establishing an intranet service for staff. The DOE also provided clarity of roles, responsibilities, and vision both within our system and in the community.   

The 2013-14 school year begins on Aug. 5. For more information about Race to the Top, visit 

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