Since 2000, CRDG’s Literacy and Hawaiian Education (LHE) team has been working directly with the Hawai‘i Department of Education (HIDOE) to improve educational services to children and youth in schools with high proportions of Native Hawaiian students. Two of LHE’s projects are in their final year of implementation. Heluhelu Maoli provides early and strategic reading and mathematics supports for students in grades K–5. Kāko‘o Ikaika employs detection and prevention strategies for at-risk students in grades 6–12 to provide transition support in three middle school/ high school pairs. LHE’s latest project, Piha Pono, is a scaling-up project that expands successful school-wide practices in grades K–5 reading and grade one mathematics that use the Response to Intervention (RTI) and Positive Behavior Support frameworks.
According to most estimates, between 26 percent and 34 percent of the students in Hawai‘i’s public schools are Native Hawaiian. Native Hawaiian students represent over 60 percent of the student population across the ten elementary schools at which LHE provides schoolwide reading supports. Through Piha Pono, currently in its second year of implementation, LHE will continue to build on the evidence-based approaches that have been shown to have a positive impact in raising school-wide reading achievement in these partner elementary schools. In 2010, in order to meet the state’s Annual Measurable Objective (AMO) for reading on the 2010 Hawai‘i State Assessment (HSA), 58 percent of the students in a school had to achieve the proficiency benchmark. Despite their having overall substantially higher percentages of low-income students than the state average (75 percent versus a state mean of 45 percent), all ten of the current LHE project schools met the AMO for reading that year. The following year, the state’s AMO for reading (HSA reading standard) increased from 58 percent (2009–2010 School Year) to 72 percent (2010–2011 School Year). Even with the higher AMO for reading in 2011, nine of the ten Heluhelu Maoli project schools either again met the state’s AMO for reading or improved in the percentage of students meeting the standard. Of particular note is the most recent HSA data, which shows that at an individual student level, the percentage of Native Hawaiian students in project elementary schools who met or exceeded the HSA proficiency standard in reading increased from 38% in 2011 to 55% in 2012.
Much like their predecessor project, Pihana Nā Mamo, these three CRDGHIDOE partnership projects show the result that commitment to best practices combined with sustained effort over time can make.