Rooted in Reason: Nurturing the Seeds of Liberty

Educational Standard Study points out the Elephant in the Room. by grassroothawaii
July 21, 2010, 9:50 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

By Hideo Hikida

Mary Vorsino at the Star-Advertiser wrote an article detailing the contents of a national study that gave the Hawaii Public School system an overall grade of “C” for its standards in comparison with the rest of the nation. The words “mediocre” and “often vague” were used to characterize the standards used by the Hawaii public school system, further exposing Hawaii’s lack of educational standing amongst the fifty states.

I took a deeper look into the report issued by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and found detailed explanations of the grading system used by the Institute as well as specific critiques that have been raised for years to no avail. For instance, the study points out the exact third grade reading standard and rubric used by Hawaii schools and points out the lack of clarity, specificity and direction that the rubric provides. As you can see for yourself, the guidelines for Advanced, Proficient, Partially Proficient and Novice are confusing at best. What constitutes a minor error? What constitutes a significant error?

The report’s criticism really turns up the heat in the coming paragraphs detailing the “Clarity and Specificity” criterion of the grading process, stating that [Hawaii] “fails to make the kinds of tough prioritization decisions that differentiate between standards that are precise, rigorous (and teachable) and those that are too vague or numerous to guide effective instruction and assessment.”

One humorous yet horrifying factoid that the report disclosed was the fact that the actual Hawaii Public High School reading lists were “rife with misspellings” (e.g. Dickenson, Hemmingway). If the teachers can’t even spell the reading list right, then we’re in for a world of trouble.

In the end, the study gives the State of Hawaii a 5 out of 10 (50%) which (in their scale) equates to a C. Funny…in school a 50% equated to a big fat F. I guess Hawaii got off easy in relation to the grading curve no?

Going back to Vorsino’s article, it’s interesting to note that Vorsino offers hope to the public in that when Hawaii adopts a national curriculum, the grades will increase for Hawaii school standards. The sad thing that everyone seems to be forgetting here is the fact that while standards are great, they really serve no purpose if the students themselves fail to achieve those standards. With the Hawaii school system annually ranking near the bottom of scholastic achievement every year, what are new standards going to do if our students can barely achieve the “C-grade” standards right now? Sure, the school system itself is going to get better marks for adopting better standards but what of the students? In the end, the problem still comes down to the lack of quality teachers combined with the lack of initiative, misappropriation of funding and scant attention the state gives towards the education system in our islands. Funding favoritism, under-qualified educators and the general lack of enthusiasm to learn will ultimately lead to the sad continuation of the educational status quo that our State is sadly known for.


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[…] on the theme of education from the post I wrote yesterday, it seems that Hawaii Public Schools are going to be switching from the traditional paper and […]

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