Focus Area 05: Designing Educational Systems

The Education Laboratory School

Jane Burke, a former principal and superintendent from North Carolina, became the ELS principal in January 2003.

The Education Laboratory: A Hawai‘i New Century Public Charter School is in its third year as a public charter school. However, it is unique among schools in many respects.

It is operated by CRDG as a K–12 laboratory for researching, designing, testing, and evaluating effective approaches to improving learning, teaching, and assessing.

The student population is randomly selected from among applicants to represent a broad cross section reflecting the state population distribution of gender, school-level accomplishment, family income, and ethnicity.

All students are in school for 7.5 hours a day, and take a challenging comprehensive curriculum that includes English, mathematics, science, social studies, art, music, drama, and athletics, as well as electives each year. The school has no tracking of students. All take the identical core program in non-segregated classes. All students graduate college ready.

The curriculum is built on multi-year sequences of learning, which emphasize creativity, inquiry, problem-solving, and active learning. In most cases, students and teachers are using CRDG-developed programs and approaches. The school serves as a demonstration site, hosting observers, researchers, and educators-in-training.

During 2003, visitors to ELS included

  • over 500 educators and students from Nishinippon High School and Sohseikan High and Middle School, our two sister schools in Japan.
  • 22 Lanakila Elementary School teachers, 6 Honolulu District Office Resource Teachers, and educators from Singapore to observe Measure Up in grades 1 and 2.
  • 2 Singapore mathematics instructors from Ngee Ann Polytechnic Institute to observe grades 6–8 classes.
  • 3 Hawai‘i state mathematics specialists to observe the grades 6–10 mathematics classes.
  • 7 New Jersey Charter School teachers to observe the elementary Measure Up classes.
  • 24 pre-service teachers who completed all or part of their observation/participation requirements at ELS.
  • 2 pre-service teachers who completed their student teaching requirement at ELS.
  • 10 graduate students in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology at UH who completed the Graduate Students in K–12 Education training at ELS.
ELS grade 7 students, using information from the Watershed database, won first place in the Watershed Model Contest for Make-a-Difference Day. The event was sponsored by Protect the Planet and the City and County of Honolulu.


  • CRDG staff is establishing a worldwide network of scholars and educational leaders to build better systems that link the areas of systematic thinking, educational policy, and effective practices.
  • ELS continues to serve as an experiment of an educational model that maximizes opportunities for all children and youth through better curriculum, instruction, and staff development.
  • ELS consistently has a 100% graduation rate with over 95% of its graduates typically continuing to post-secondary education.
  • In 2002 and 2003, ELS students had among the highest scores in the state the Hawai‘i Content and Performance Standards assessments in reading and mathematics for grades 8 and 10.
  • ELS students won first, second, and third place awards in the statewide Hawai‘i Education Association writing contest.
  • Two students placed on the National Honor Roll in the American Mathematics Competitions.
  • Three students won recognition at the National Scholastic Art Awards; one student received first place nationally for his pastel painting.

ELS Local School Board 2003

Student Representatives
Jace Hieda
Jennifer Tadina

Parent Representative
Dawn Chang

Faculty Representative
Matthew Miller, CRDG

Community Representatives
Barbara Dougherty, CRDG,
David Ericson, College of Education
Donna Estomago, Lanikai Elementary School
Marlene Hapai, College of Tropical Agriculture
Charles Khim, Attorney
Loretta Krause, Retired
Francis M. Pottenger, CRDG
Thomas W. Speitel, CRDG
Eileen Tamura, College of Education
David Wilson, McNeil Wilson Communications