School officials acknowledge slow start in 'Race to the Top'

By Nana Ohkawa
Published On: Nov 29 2012 06:58:53 AM HST

Hawaii's Department of Education says it's making strides in Race to Top, Wil Okabe thanks teachers.

HONOLULU -

It was a slow beginning to its Race to the Top.  But, the Hawaii State Department of Education said it has made significant progress detailing the newly-released two-year report.

School officials acknowledged that they got off to a slow start implementing Race to the Top goals. The slow start left Hawaii on high-risk status, and a year later, we are still there. But school officials said things are getting better.

"Our Hawaii state assessment test scores went up in all of our grades in both reading and math, and we were the only state among all of those who take the nations report card to show gains in both reading and math," said assistant superintendent Stephen Schatz.

Hawaii has completed more than 90 percent of its goals in the past two years, but it still has a way to go.

"We have more reports that we wanted to have packaged for the schools, to make it easier for them to look at their data. Some of those things still need to be done," said superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.

Shatz said, "We've struggled a bit in our great teachers and our great leaders and some of our deliverables."

President Wil Okabe of the Hawaii State Teachers Association stands behind the teachers saying, "It's unfortunate that I am the only one who is publicly acknowledging that the improvement of our fourth and eighth grade students is because of Hawaii's teachers."

Still, officials said the teacher evaluation program implemented in more than 80 schools should improve performances.

"Our evaluation system is about providing that coaching and feedback directly to teachers, so they know where they are doing well and where they could work a little harder," said Shatz. 

The superintendent hopes to get out of the high-risk zone on the next federal evaluation.

The high-risk status could lead to Hawaii losing its grant money. The superintendent said she expects the evaluation to be in the spring of next year.

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