Hawaii Department of Education Strengthening Commitment to Hawaiian Programs

After spending two years to create a strategic path forward for Hawaiian Education, the Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) shared how it is strengthening its commitment to Hawaiian programs in the public school system.

DOE ReleaseSuperintendent Kathryn Matayoshi today updated the Hawaii State Board of Education (BOE) on the collaborative groundwork made since BOE acted on two Hawaiian Education policies.

The board and the department initiated and engaged in a number of community stakeholder meetings over 18 months to listen to the concerns and opportunities for improvements before the enactment of revisions to Hawaiian Education policies 2104 and 2105.

Policy 2104 was changed to incorporate the establishment of the Office of Hawaiian Education to support Hawaiian education’s positive impacts on the educational outcomes of all students. Policy 2105 provides students with Hawaiian bicultural and bilingual education; and the development and administration of the Hawaiian Language Immersion Program (Ka Papahana Kaiapuni) curriculum, standards, and formative and summative assessments. The DOE’s Kaiapuni program is offered at 20 schools and educates more than 2,000 students.

“Over the course of the last year, we have engaged with Hawaiian educators, community leaders, parents and supporters to create a stronger Hawaiian education pathway,” said Superintendent Matayoshi. “We started this process from the beginning with setting a unified vision and taking the necessary actions that set a clear direction.”

With the recent establishment of the Office of Hawaiian Education, the DOE is now accepting applications for a director. The director will lead the incorporation of Hawaiian knowledge, practices and perspectives in all content areas; oversee and coordinate Hawaiian education programs, projects, and initiatives; and provide organizational leadership for growth of Ka Papahana Kaiapuni.

Many stakeholders, who spent the last year providing input in the strategic mission of the Office and the description of the director position, filled the boardroom. Superintendent Matayoshi thanked the stakeholders including Kamehameha Schools and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for their support.

“There has been a lot of thought and shared commitment by our community partners, Chair Don Horner and board member Cheryl Lupenui to ensure that all of our students receive quality lessons that are uniquely provided through Hawaiian Education,” added Superintendent Matayoshi. “We know there is a lot of work ahead of us to ensure that Hawaii Education is aligned to the Hawaii Common Core standards while incorporating cultural knowledge and understanding.”

Community engagement will remain a priority as the DOE continues to advance Hawaiian Education initiatives while addressing the following challenges:

  • System wide valuing of Hawaiian education for all students
  • Developing a manageable scope and focus for the Office of Hawaiian Education
  • Aligning federal and state accountability requirements for Hawaiian language assessments
  • Limited time and resources to implement policies systems-wide and prepare all students before they graduate

Individuals interested in the position of Director of the Office of Hawaiian Education can apply here. Application deadline is February 20, 2015. For more information about Hawaiian Education, please visit www.hawaiipublicschools.org.

Superintendent Matayoshi also briefed the BOE on the development of a Hawaiian language assessment. The DOE, in partnership with the University of Hawaii-Manoa, has developed a field test for Kaiapuni students that measures progress towards mastery of academic standards that is on par with the Smarter Balanced Assessment given in the English language. The field test in language arts and math for students in grades 3 and 4 enrolled in Ka Papahana Kaiapuni schools will be held this spring. DOE has requested a “double testing” waiver from the U.S. Department of Education that would allow students taking the field test to forego the Smarter Balanced Assessment.

Many Kaiapuni parents have chosen to “opt out” of English language statewide assessments. When students opt out it has detrimental effects on the school’s Strive HI results. Strive HI is the DOE’s school accountability and improvement system.

“Hawaii has a unique situation of educating students who learn in an official language of the state,” noted Superintendent Matayoshi, who visited with federal officials on this issue in November 2014. “This is not about translating a test, rather offering a quality assessment in the indigenous language of Hawaii.”