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State rewards top schools for academic performance


Fourteen public schools were awarded more than $1 million in prizes Tuesday morning for their academic performances on the state’s new school accountability system.

The schools — 13 elementary and a K-8 charter school — earned spots in the top "recognition" category in the initial round of Strive HI results released last month, and represent the top 5 percent of schools.

The program largely replaces federal mandates of the No Child Left Behind law that required schools to meet rising reading and math proficiency targets or face sanctions. In addition to test scores, the system credits schools for attendance, graduation and college-going rates, and closing the achievement gap between high-needs students — English-language learners, those economically disadvantaged or with disabilities — and their peers.

"We are excited to provide well-deserved recognition and support to help schools continue to excel in preparing students for college and careers," Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said in a statement. 

Half of the schools were recognized at an event at Red Hill Elementary this morning, where Gov. Neil Abercrombie, DOE officials and lawmakers handed out ceremonial checks.

"This is for your future," Abercrombie told students.

Three of the schools each received $95,000 awards: Red Hill; Na Wai Ola Public Charter School in Mountain View and Ahuimanu Elementary.

Nine schools each received $75,000 awards: E.B. de Silva Elementary in Hilo; Hickam Elementary; Hokulani Elementary; Lanakila Elementary; Liholiho Elementary; Manoa Elementary; Maunaloa Elementary; Palisades Elementary; and Pearlridge Elementary.

Kalihi Uka and Konawaena Elementary each received $20,000 awards.

The DOE said the money — funded using federal Race to the Top dollars — can go toward things like professional development, investments in technology, musical instruments, science labs and equipment.

Under Strive HI, schools are assigned a score out of a possible 400 points that determines where they place on one of five category "steps."

The bulk of the state’s 286 schools, or about 80 percent, ranked in the second-highest category, "continuous improvement." The remaining 15 percent of schools were designated as "focus" or "priority" schools. No schools were placed in the bottom category, "superintendent’s zone," for the initial ratings.

Hawaii and 39 other states have been granted waivers from No Child Left Behind provisions in exchange for adopting an alternative accountability system approved by the U.S. Department of Education.

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