College enrollment from 3 schools increases

Molokai, Lahainaluna and Lanai high schools were the only public high schools in Maui County whose college enrollment rates increased over the past four years, according to a report released Monday.

Lahainaluna upped its rates from 47 percent in 2012 to 55 percent in 2016, Lanai went from 49 to 53 percent and Molokai rose from 39 to 58 percent, above the state average of 55 percent, according to a College and Career Readiness Report on the Class of 2016, released by the Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education.

“I just think it’s a better awareness that we have,” said Lindsay Ball, complex area superintendent for Hana, Lahainaluna, Lanai and Molokai. “This data brings it to light. . . . I don’t think there’s any one thing that’s contributing to it. It just shows credit to the teachers and the schools that are making an effort to improve these college enrollments.”

The report is released every year, and measures the latest high school graduating class through a number of college and career-related indicators.

All other public schools in Maui have either stayed the same or seen a slight decrease in college enrollment nationwide since 2012. The Maui County Class of 2016 averaged 49 percent, just under the state average.

However, Maui County schools also saw growing rates of students enrolling in dual credit courses, taking the ACT and finishing career technical education courses last year. And for students who continue on to the University of Hawaii, fewer are having to start with remedial-level courses.

Molokai High School Principal Stanford Hao said he “definitely” knows that the school’s Early College High School program has been a factor in sending more Molokai graduates to college. Molokai was one of 12 schools statewide to receive a grant through Hawaii P-20 and the Harold K. L. Castle Foundation for an ECHS program.

“We are in our third year of that, and we knew that (our rates) would eventually grow,” Hao said Monday. “Our plan was designed to target a specific population of students to raise expectations and provide support for them. Our goals have come to fruition as we currently have freshmen and sophomores who are able to enroll in and pass college classes.”

In Maui County, “a nice portion of students” are taking college-level courses while in high school, Ball said. Overall, 14.5 percent of last year’s graduating class took University of Hawaii courses while in high school, on par with the 14 percent statewide rates.

Kihei Public Charter High School had the highest county rate, with 68 percent of the class (28 out of 41 students) enrolled in dual credit. Lanai and Molokai have more than doubled their rates since 2014. Lanai High went from 9 to 20 students (24 to 67 percent), while Molokai High jumped from 8 to 25 students (11 to 35 percent).

“That’s great. They’re saving their families money because they’re getting these credits (before college),” Ball said.

An encouraging trend for Ball was the decrease in the number of students enrolled in remedial math and English courses, and the rise of students enrolled in college-level math and English.

Baldwin, King Kekaulike, Maui and Lahainaluna high schools — the four largest high schools by enrollment in the county — all saw an improvement over 2014 rates among graduates who went on to the University of Hawaii. King Kekaulike lowered its rate of students in below-college-level math courses from 28 to 13 percent, the best of the county’s schools. Maui High had the largest decrease of students in below-college-level English courses, from 39 percent to 12 percent. As for students in college-level courses, Baldwin had the most improved rate for students in English courses, from 45 to 64 percent, while Lahainaluna went from 30 to 50 percent in college-level math courses.

(No data were available for Hana, Lanai, Molokai and Kihei charter.)

Ball said it’s a good sign for a school like Lahainaluna “that’s kind of been in flux” with the assignment of two temporary principals over the past two years. “It’s something that speaks well for what the teachers are doing and for what the students are doing,” he said.

Hao said that the hard work of staff, collaboration with local organizations and UH have helped open doors for student success. One key change Molokai High has made is creating a period for college and career readiness at the end of the school day. Parents of students enrolled in ECHS are also required to participate in support classes to learn “how to navigate the college system and to stay on top of their student.”

“I believe that it shows that when adults are willing to invest their time and efforts for increased opportunities for our students, our students win,” Hao said. “The experience is rigorous but, when students choose to take that risk and receive the supports we offer, they grow and flourish.”

* Colleen Uechi can be reached at cuechi@mauinews.com.

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