Hawaii Education Experiment Gets Uneven Outcome

Marion Herbert's picture
Tuesday, July 24, 2012

In 2010 the Hawaii Department of Education formed two “zones of school innovation,”one on the Leeward Coast of Oahu and the other in the Kau-Pahoa region of Hawaii island, in hopes of providing the state’s lowest-performing schools with intensive help.

Two years later the latest round of test scores shows some schools in those zones are celebrating big improvements, others are making smaller gains while a few declined in student proficiency in reading and math.

The mixed picture, education officials said, shows there is still lots of work to be done.

But officials are also upbeat, saying that even schools that didn’t make gains have made other improvements, from beefing up standards to more closely coordinating efforts between schools within the complex, from kindergarten to 12th grade.

“This kind of improvement does not happen overnight,” said education Deputy Superintendent Ronn Nozoe. “There’s no magic bullet. This is about hard work and this stuff takes time.”

The innovation zones model was designed to support struggling schools and serve as the testing area for strategies aimed at boosting student achievement and making teachers more effective.

Revised teacher evaluations that link student performance to teachers, for example, were piloted last school year in the 18 schools in the zones. This fall, 82 schools will be included in the linked program.

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