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Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Race to the Top: Feds say Hawaii has Made Huge Progress
By News Release @ 1:31 AM :: 2388 Views :: Education K-12

Hawaii DOE receives Federal praise for education reforms

News release from Hawaii DoE, March 18, 2014

HONOLULU – The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) is receiving high praise from the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) for its efforts in implementing key reforms such as the Educator Effectiveness System, professional development on the Hawaii Common Core and work to support its most needy schools. This comes with the Year 3 Race to the Top (RTTT) report released this evening.

“Over the last few years, we have seen Race to the Top states build on the systems and framework that they have been developing to lay the foundation for long-term, sustainable progress,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Hawaii has made key steps in implementing its plans, developing great teachers and leaders, and in improving students’ outcomes. As Hawaii completes the third year of implementing its Race to the Top grant, it has continued to demonstrate leadership in education reform.”

During a call with media before the report’s release Secretary Duncan stated: “When we originally gave (Hawaii) the RTTT grant, lots of folks doubted our judgment there, and said there was no way they could be successful. They initially struggled…a lot of people didn’t think they could succeed, and they’ve shown amazing leadership in a relatively short amount of time…they’ve made huge progress.”

Governor Neil Abercrombie welcomed the news. “The U.S. Department of Education’s recognition of Hawaii’s progress highlights our commitment to transform public education,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “We are proud of the hard work and dedication of our principals, teachers, staff and students. Hawaii has proven that no matter how great the challenge, we can pull together to make sure Hawaii’s keiki have the opportunities they need to succeed.”

Among Hawaii’s highlights as noted in the report, which documents efforts from Sept. 2012 – Sept. 2013:

  • Improved scores on national benchmarks and access to more rigorous course work and resources like AP classes. Specifically, “The Nation’s 2013 Report Card” by the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) where Hawaii’s fourth- and eighth-graders proved to be among the nation’s leaders when it comes to improved progress in mathematics and reading achievement. Last year also marked the first time Hawaii’s fourth-graders surpassed the national average in mathematics.
  • Progress in initiatives related to supporting teachers in leaders in Year 3, primarily due to the ratified contract with the Hawaii State Teachers Association in April 2013, allowing the implementation of the Educator Effectiveness System (EES) design and implementation.
  • Continued support and training for educators statewide as we transitioned to new college-and career-readiness standards: Hawaii’s Common Core.
  • Extensive supports the DOE has put in place to turn around low-achieving schools, particularly those in the Zones of School Innovation (ZSI), where community partners have played a key role in ensuring success. They include the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, Kamehameha Schools, AT&T, Hawaii 3R’s, Hawaiian Electric Industries and the Hawaii Business Roundtable.

“The third-year report is a testament to the remarkable efforts of our educators in meeting elevated expectations,” said Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “As we head into the final months of the grant, we continue our commitment to put into place systems and practices that will keep our students successful in college, careers and community long after the grant ends. Race to the Top was an important step in the transformation of our public school system and we are staying the course.”

In speaking with education reporters Tuesday morning, Ann Whalen of the USDOE’s Office of the Deputy Secretary commented: “Shout out to Hawaii – this time last year was on high risk, and over the past year has absolutely demonstrated amazing progress. (Hawaii) is one of our rising stars and one of the states we’re really watching as those with promising practices within the field.”

In August 2010, the USDOE awarded Hawaii with a four-year, $75 million RTTT grant. The following year, Hawaii was placed on high-risk status. In February 2013, the USDOE removed Hawaii’s high-risk status in two of five areas. These areas addressed education reform in the areas of standards and assessments (area B); and data systems (area C). In July 2013, the USDOE lifted the high-risk label for the entire grant, including three additional areas: system alignment and performance monitoring (area A); great teachers, great leaders (area D); and turning around persistently low-achieving schools (area E).

The Year 3 RTTT Hawaii Report also noted challenges for the state’s final year, which included transition to standards, building better data systems, and improving teacher effectiveness.

“We are already tackling these challenges and are holding ourselves accountable, not just for Race to the Top but because these are areas of focus in our Board of Education and DOE joint Strategic Plan,” said Matayoshi.

Resources from Hawaii’s Year 3 RTTT report:

  *   *   *   *   *

States Continue Progress During Third Year of Race to the Top

News Release from US DoE March 18, 2014

Today the U.S. Department of Education released the year three Race to the Top state progress reports for the District of Columbia and the 11 states that received grants in the first two rounds of the program:  Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Tennessee.  These reports capture the highlights and obstacles that the states saw over the course of the 2012-13 school year.

“Over the last few years, we have seen Race to the Top states build on the systems and framework that they have been developing to lay the foundation for long-term, sustainable progress,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “In the third year of the program, states were able to shift to developing more tools, resources and supports for school districts and educators to strengthen their skills and build their capacity to tackle some of the toughest work in education.  We know this work isn’t easy, but what has been most encouraging is that state and district leaders have had the courage to put these plans into action, and teachers and principals have shown up day after day with the same goal that we all share: making sure every single student is prepared to be successful in college and in their careers.”

It’s important to note that the year 3 reports demonstrate a snapshot in time—the progress that states made during that year.  We’ve seen a number of states take steps to address the challenges that arose in that year over the past few months. It is also key to clarify that states cannot be compared to each other with these reports. The reports mark the progress that each state has made against the plan it set forth, and states are only compared to the benchmarks they have committed to in their plans. Ultimately, in the third year, a number of Race to the Top states posted encouraging signs of progress with improved scores on national benchmarks and access to more rigorous course work and resources like AP classes.

States reached a number of benchmarks in year three, as they began to put reforms into action in classrooms.  As we near the four year anniversary of Race to the Top, states are implementing their unique plans, built around four assurance areas: implementing college- and career-ready standards and assessments, building robust data systems to improve instruction, supporting great teachers and school leaders, and turning around persistently low-performing schools. Some states made strategic investments to develop tools and resources for educators, students and parents; launch state-level support networks; or develop additional science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) schools or programs. Others launched new pipelines for teachers and leaders, supported key efforts to turn around low-performing schools, or implemented teacher and principal evaluations to better support educators and inform continuous improvement.

The Department’s Implementation and Support Unit (ISU) has partnered with states to track progress and provide feedback as they implement large-scale reform. Where states encountered delays and challenges, the ISU worked with them on adjustments to help move the work forward, while holding states accountable to their commitments. ISU officials will continue to provide annual updates about states’ progress under Race to the Top.

In addition to the year two state reports, today the Department posted Annual Performance Report (APR) data from states that received Race to the Top funding in phases one, two and three. This data helped to inform the year three reports, which were also developed with information from site visits, communications with state staff, and other performance reports. The APR helps to advance the Department’s efforts to provide transparent information and allow the public to follow grantees’ progress in implementing reform plans and meeting ambitious goals for student outcomes, including performance measures, student growth and closing achievement gaps.

The Race to the Top program, which made its first awards in 2010, has provided 24 states and D.C. with about $5 billion through three phases of the flagship competition and over $1 billion to support 20 states during the three rounds of the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge.  In 2012 the Department launched the first Race to the Top-District program, which has now funded 21 applicants – representing 80 school districts across 13 states and D.C. – with over $500 million to support locally developed plans that will prepare every student to succeed in college and their careers.  The Department’s fiscal year 2015 budget request includes $300 million for a new Race to the Top Equity and Opportunity competition to create incentives and provide resources for states and school districts to address persistent opportunity and achievement gaps. RTT Opportunity builds on previous RTT competitions and reform strategies to close gaps for high-need students.

For more information about the Race to the Top program, and to review the 12 state-specific year two reports and APR data, visit: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/index.html.

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