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Common Core testing in Hawaii schools yields mixed results

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Only 76 Hawaii public schools achieved proficiency of at least 51 percent of students on the math portion of the Smarter Balanced Assessment last school year, according to an analysis of data released today by the state Department of Education. 

Among the state’s 288 schools, including department and charter schools, math results ranged from a low of 9 percent proficiency at Waianae High to a high of 84 percent proficiency at Waikiki Elementary. The statewide average for math was 41 percent on the more rigorous Common Core-aligned test. 

A larger number of schools performed better on the English language arts portion of the test, which was administered for the first time last school year: 129 schools achieved proficiency of at least 51 percent of students in language arts. Scores ranged from a low of 16 percent at Na Wai Ola Public Charter School in Mountain View to 86 percent at Kaelepulu Elementary in Windward Oahu. The statewide language arts average was 48 percent. 

The DOE last month announced statewide results for the more rigorous test, but today released more detailed data as part of its Strive HI accountability system that credits schools for improvements in standardized test scores, ACT scores, attendance, graduation and college-going rates, and closing the achievement gap between high-needs students and their peers. 

First approved in 2013, the state-developed Strive HI system largely replaces federal mandates under the outdated No Child Left Behind law that required schools to meet rising reading and math proficiency targets or face sanctions. 

Schools receive a score out of a possible 400 points, which determines where they 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. Results show seven schools moved into the recognition category this year while 20 schools moved out of the focus category, the DOE said. 

Momilani Elementary in Pearl City scored the highest with 361 points. Manoa Elementary, Helemano Elementary, Mililani Waena Elementary and Liholiho Elementary rounded out the top five. On the opposite end of the scale, schools with the lowest index scores were Na Wai Ola, Kaewai Elementary in Kalihi, Waiahole Elementary, Mountain View Elementary and Pope Elementary in Waimanalo. 

Previously, the DOE has rewarded high-performing schools with cash rewards, but legislators removed funding for prizes from the budget last year. 

“The data show that as a state our schools are maintaining recent gains, and the Strive HI reports provide important feedback to our schools and the state offices to support our students’ success,” assistant superintendent Tammi Oyadomari-Chun said in a statement. 

Highlights from the Strive HI results show: 

>> Chronic absenteeism, an indicator of student success, in elementary schools held steady at 11 percent, reflecting the percentage of students absent 15 days or more. Three schools tied for the lowest chronic absenteeism rate of 2 percent: Momilani, Nimitz and Noelani elementary schools. 

>> Overall 11th grade ACT scores increased by 3 points. Top scorers were charter schools Kihei Charter School, University Lab School and Myron Thompson Academy. 

>> The statewide graduation rate held at 82 percent, just above the national average. Schools with the highest rates were University Lab School (100 percent), Lanai High & Elementary (97 percent), and Moanalua High and Myron Thompson Academy (tied at 95 percent). 

>> The statewide college-going rate dropped 1 percentage point to 62 percent, reflecting the number of students who enrolled in any college nationwide within 16 months of graduation. High schools with the highest college-going rates were University Lab School (91 percent), Kalani (85 percent) and Kaiser (84 percent). 

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