Hawaii News Students stumble in 2 areas By Nanea Kalani Aug. 26, 2014 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COMCastle High School students Skye Generalao Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. After a decade of steady growth, the number of Hawaii public school students scoring proficient in math dipped slightly last school year while reading scores also slid — decreases officials say were expected as the state continues its transition to a more rigorous set of curriculum standards and as schools gear up for a new standardized assessment this year. Statewide, 59 percent of isle students tested proficient in math for the 2013-14 school year, down from 60 percent the year before, state Department of Education data released Monday show. In reading, 69 percent of students were proficient, down from 72 percent a year prior. The drops mark the first time since the 2002-03 school year that statewide progress in math on the Hawaii State Assessment hasn’t seen an uptick, and the first time that year-over-year reading scores haven’t increased or held steady since that year, according to an analysis of DOE data. Students in grades 3 through 8 and grade 10 last year took a hybrid or a so-called bridge assessment — a subset of math and reading questions from the former Hawaii State Assessment that most aligned with the Common Core standards to help with the transition to the Smarter Balanced tests students will take later this year. (The Smarter Balanced standardized test is aligned to Common Core standards that will be used by roughly half of the Common Core states. It was developed by a consortium made up of 23 member states.) Teachers statewide last school year began teaching under the Common Core, a set of nationally crafted standards that aim to lay out what students should know and be able to do in reading and math from kindergarten to grade 12. Hawaii is one of 41 states to adopt the initiative. "During a year of tremendous change in our public schools, it is clear that our students and staff continue to answer the call to strive higher at every level," Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said in a statement. "The data shows some clear bright spots, as well as some things we need to continue to work on." She added, "We expected an adjustment as new standards and assessments challenge students to understand and demonstrate knowledge and skills in deeper and more meaningful ways." Students made gains on the science portion of the Hawaii State Assessment, with 40 percent of students testing proficient, up from 34 percent the year before. The improvement meant 2,500 additional students tested proficient compared with last year. The DOE credited the increase in part to the shift to the Common Core, which officials said focuses on applying reading and math skills across subjects to solve real-world problems. Some individual schools saw significant year-over-year improvements in math, reading and science test scores, including: » Ke Kula Ni‘ihau O Kekaha charter school on Kauai: Reading proficiency improved to 95 percent from 69 percent, marking the highest reading proficiency rate among public schools and the largest improvement in that category. Math proficiency climbed to 79 percent from 54 percent. » Kaelepulu Elementary in Kailua: Science proficiency increased to 97 percent of students from 47 percent, marking the highest science rate in the state and the largest improvement in that subject. Math proficiency rose to 90 percent from 76 percent, representing the largest improvement in math among schools. Kaelepulu Principal Jamie Dela Cruz credited the school’s teachers for the gains. Statewide test scores were released Monday as part of the Department of Education’s Strive HI accountability system for schools, which beginning last year replaced the requirement under the federal No Child Left Behind Law that schools meet rising proficiency targets or face sanctions. The U.S. Department of Education granted Hawaii a waiver last summer in exchange for adopting an alternative accountability system. In addition to test scores, schools for a second year were evaluated using criteria that vary for elementary and secondary schools, such as how well they reduce chronic absenteeism, increase graduation and college-going rates, and close the achievement gap between high-needs students (those who are disabled or economically challenged, and English language learners) and their non-high-needs peers, among other measures. Statewide, the chronic absenteeism rate — reflecting students who are absent 15 days or more — among elementary schools improved to 11 percent of students from 18 percent the year before, meaning 5,500 fewer students overall were chronically absent. Among high schools, the state’s overall graduation rate and college-going rate remained flat at 82 percent and 63 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, the number of students scoring well on the eighth-grade and 11th-grade ACT college-prep test also stayed flat, and the statewide achievement gap between high-needs students and their less needy peers widened by 2 percentage points. Individual schools receive a score out of a possible 400 points, which determines where schools land in one of five categories: recognition (top 5 percent of schools); continuous improvement; focus; priority (lowest 5 percent of schools); and superintendent’s zone. Three Oahu elementary schools — Kaelepulu, Waikiki and Hokulani — tied for the top Strive HI index score with 390 points each. Red Hill and Helemano elementary schools rounded out the top five. On the opposite end, Aiea Elementary had the lowest index score of 44 points, a sharp drop from the 238 points it earned the year before. The school’s reading proficiency rate dropped to 33 percent last year from 60 percent, while its math rate dropped to 27 percent from 42 percent. Olomana School, which serves at-risk students in grades 7 to 12, and Maili Elementary rounded out the bottom three. Of the 256 public schools and 32 public charter schools rated under Strive HI, 125 schools saw a year-over-year increase in their index scores, while five were unchanged and the rest saw a decrease. "We used to do all of this based on a school’s proficiency rating in reading and math. Now we’re running multiple measures and there’s so much more actionable data for schools to use to work on areas where they need to improve," said Deputy Superintendent Ronn Nozoe. Previous Story A look at life on the Hōkūle‘a and Hikianalia Next Story Telling Tales: Greetings from Pago Pago!