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Hawaii Parents Informed of Higher Learning Expectations for Public School Students

Public schools across the state today welcomed back students after a three-week winter break. Students were given a letter to take home to their parents as a reminder of the upcoming spring assessments for English language arts and math.

Click to read letter

Click to read letter

The new assessments, known as Smarter Balanced, are aligned to the Hawaii Common Core standards implemented statewide at the start of the school year. The letter from Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi also included sample exercises explaining how students are being asked deeper questions that require critical thinking.

“New expectations for student learning mean we need new ways to measure how our students are performing,” stated Superintendent Matayoshi. “These new tests measure not only what students know, but also how well they can apply their knowledge in real-world situations.”

Smarter Balanced assessments will be administered beginning in March to students in grades three through eighth and high school juniors to measure their reading, math, writing, listening, research and thinking skills. Hawaii is a governing member of a multi-state consortium that has worked with teachers, parents and higher education faculty to develop the Smarter Balanced assessments. Over three million students across the consortium participated in the field test last year to ensure questions are valid, reliable and fair for all students.

“While this is a step forward in our plans to raise student achievement, we expect the change to the new test will result in lower scores as compared to previous years,” said Superintendent Matayoshi. “However, because it is a new test aligned to new standards, we will not be comparing the results to that of the old test. Results from this year are a new starting point for students.”

The results also benefit teachers. The Smarter Balanced Assessment System offers information during the year to give teachers and parents a better picture of where students are thriving and where they need help.

A number of schools held Smarter Balanced parent nights with activities during the fall. The parent letter includes additional assessment examples and tips for helping with homework.

For more information on how the Hawaii State Department of Education is striving higher with new learning standards and assessments, visit HawaiiPublicSchools.org.

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