Hawaii Schools: Improvement In College Prep

Hawaii Schools: Improvement In College Prep
One of the largest school districts has made great strides in preparing more students for higher education. What is their secret?

Hawaii Public Schools, one of the largest school districts in the country, is seeing improvements in the number of students who are college bound. The district attributes the positive numbers to various factors, including their ability to better track student progress in recent years. With more students showing readiness for higher education endeavors after high school, the state is confident it can boost the number of college graduates statewide within the next two decades. What is their secret? It appears a number of factors are contributing to the state’s success.

College and Career Readiness Indicators

The Honolulu Civil Beat reports that recent positive numbers from Hawaii Public Schools can be found in the latest College and Career Readiness Indicators report. The new reports were released by Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education and the Hawaii Department of Education. The reports use a range of metrics to evaluate college readiness for high school students in the state. According to the most recent numbers, it appears students in the Islands are making strides in nearly every indicator.

According to a press release from the Hawaii Department of Education, the recent report included the following findings:

  • College Enrollment – the state saw a slight increase in college enrollment, from 53 percent in 2011 to 54 percent in 2012
  • College-Level Courses – the number of students enrolling in college-level English and math courses increased by four percent each between 2011 and 2012
  • Remedial Courses – the number of students requiring remedial English coursework prior to beginning college courses dropped to 31 percent
  • AP Courses – students taking Advanced Placement exams during high school increased to 24 percent

“This new data is very encouraging, and the upward trend in college-going rates is a positive sign for our students and the state’s economic outlook,” Kathryn Matayoshi, superintendent of Hawaii Public Schools, stated in the press release. “Our culture around using data for improvement has changed considerably. The College and Career Readiness Indicator reports provide school administrators and educators with a diverse set of data that will help inform critical decision-making to ensure our graduates are ready to enter college and compete in a global workforce.”

College Graduation Goals for Hawaii

According to a news update from the Hawaii Department of Education, the upward trend fits quite nicely with the state’s goal of increasing the number of college graduates. The Hawaii P-20 Mission is to see 55 percent of working adults earning a two- or four-year degree by 2025. With college readiness and college-going rates increasing steadily in the state over the past three years, educators in Hawaii feel they are on track to meet that lofty goal.

The data collected is essential to ensuring the positive work continues in public education throughout the Islands. In addition to showing overall growth for the school district, metrics are broken down by school so that the Department of Education can see which schools are succeeding and which schools might need more assistance in reaching their goals. With measurable metrics in use, the department can quickly identify trouble spots and address them, while celebrating areas where they have achieved some success.

Full List of Metrics Used in Report

In addition to the gains indicated above, the College and Career Readiness Indicators report looked at the following factors:

  • High School Completers
  • On Time Graduation Rates
  • Hawaii State Assessments
  • Advanced Placement Enrollment
  • Enrollment in Dual Credit Program
  • CollegeBoard SAT Scores

In addition, the reports looked a college enrollment, both nationwide and at the University of Hawaii. Students in the Islands still choose the University of Hawaii most often, with 40 percent of the graduating class of 2011 enrolling there. That number made up 80 percent of the graduating high school seniors in the state who were enrolling in college the following year.

The report also evaluated college readiness through the number of students who required remedial coursework in math or English upon enrollment at the University of Hawaii. The metrics specifically identify graduating seniors during the spring semester of the current school year that enroll at any of HU’s 10 campuses for the following fall semester. They do not include students that enroll but do not take college courses that semester, or those students that never take math or English placement examinations prior to enrollment.

High Performing Schools

Hawaii News Now reports that some of the public schools in the state made larger improvements than others, according to the metrics on this recent report. For example, Kapaa High School on Kauai and Farrington High School on Oahu both made significant improvement in college enrollment numbers between 2010 and 2012. Kapaa High School increased college enrollment from 46 percent in 2010 to 59 percent in 2012. Farrington High increased enrollment from 36 percent in 2010 to 48 percent in 2012.

Other schools that showed measurable improvement included Pahoa High School on the Big Island and Baldwin High School on Maui. Each of these schools increased college enrollment by around 11 percent between 2010 and 2012. Nanakuli High School also increased its college-going rate by 12 percent over the same two years. Kanai High School had the highest percentage of high school graduates enroll in college, with a whopping rate of 81 percent. Other schools that showed a high rate of college enrollment included Roosevelt, Mililani, Waiakea and Moanalua.

With many positive numbers to celebrate, this large school district is proof that carefully tracking measurable metrics and placing high school completion and college readiness as priorities can pay off big dividends for the students and schools within that district.

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