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Hawaii seeks to give extra help to struggling schools

July 31, 2012
The Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii's request for flexibility from some requirements of the No Child Left Behind law would use multiple measures to determine how schools are progressing.

Hawaii is among the states applying for waivers for the Bush-era law, which has drawn criticism that it's a one-size-fits-all approach to defining student success. The state expects to submit its request in September, and if approved, it would be in effect for the 2013-14 school year. Some 33 states have already been granted waivers by the Obama administration.

The state's proposal wants to identify struggling schools and give them extra help but also spotlights success stories, giving them more freedom or incentives, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday.

"We want to have a better definition of success for schools, not the one-dimensional test view of success," said Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. "It's a huge sea change."

The Hawaii State Assessment determines whether schools are making "adequate yearly progress" toward the federal mandate that every student be proficient in reading and math by 2014. More than half of Hawaii's schools failed to meet that benchmark during the 2011-12 school year.

The state Department of Education doesn't believe it's fair that schools can be labeled as failing if they miss certain benchmarks by even one student.

Test scores will still be crucial to rating school success, but there will be more measures if Hawaii gets its way.

"It's a fairer way of looking at schools," Lynn Finnegan, executive director of the Hawaii Charter Schools Network, said of the state's proposal.

The state is seeking public comments on the plan through Aug. 17.

 
 

 

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