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Fewer Hawaii public high school graduates went to college

HONOLULU (AP) — There was a drop in the number of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students who went to college last year after graduating from Hawaii’s public schools, which a group of educational leaders attributes to the pandemic.

A report by the Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education shows that 35 percent of Native Hawaiians in the class of 2020 enrolled in college upon graduation, a decline from 44 percent for the class of 2019, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday. Figures for Pacific Islander graduates fell to 29 percent from 35 percent.

According to the report, Hawaii’s public high schools had a record graduation rate in 2020 but far fewer graduates enrolled in college: 50 percent of last year’s graduating class went straight to college, down from 55 percent the previous year.

It was the steepest one-year dip ever recorded, the newspaper reported.

“The negative effects of the pandemic on educational progress in general are not equal across socioeconomic and demographic groups,” said Stephen Schatz, executive director of Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education. “In particular, economically disadvantaged, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders saw some pretty precipitous declines in the college-going rate for the class of 2020.”

Schatz said the education community needs to act on the premise that the pandemic had an effect on all students’ academic and mental health.

“Vital work continues to advance our high school graduates toward achieving their college aspirations, despite the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hawaii schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said in a statement.

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