Real progress in our schools

An Associated Press story last week quoted Arne Duncan, U.S. secretary of education, praising Hawaii for “huge progress” in implementing reforms.

The secretary noted that only a year ago, Hawaii’s $75 million “Race to the Top” grant sat in “high-risk” status because the feds had not seen the expected progress.

But now test scores for both 4th- and 8th-graders have improved, a teacher evaluation program is moving forward and Hawaii is emphasizing STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects in its curriculum.

The story notes Hawaii’s performance on the 2012 National Assessment of Educational Progress tests showed an enormous gain when compared to 2009 results. There was an 8-point increase in average scores in mathematics for grades 4 and 8; a 4-point increase in the average score for reading in grade 4; and a 5-point increase in the average score for 8th-grade reading.

This is the first year of a teacher assessment program and, while questions remain about it, even the teachers union says it is needed.

Hawaii State Teachers Association President Wil Okabe noted Wednesday that the system “is necessary and supported by teachers.” Only teachers that receive a rating of “effective” will be eligible for raises.

Duncan’s approval of the changes being made is a great sign for Hawaii. He is a no-nonsense administrator and the change of the grant status indicates there is real progress being made.

The feds also noted that Hawaii is the only state of the 11 who received “Race to the Top” grants that has not asked for an extension to reach their reform goals.

We view that as a sign from our state Department of Education officials they are confident they are on the right path. That is good news for Hawaii.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.