NIU VALLEY (HawaiiNewsNow) - Niu Valley Middle School principal Justin Mew read the message in an e-mail from the Dept. of Education. Overall, his students exceeded the goals set for reading and math on the Hawaii State Assessment tests.
"I was ecstatic. I rate it very high," he said.
Saddled with seventeen furlough days, teachers at Niu Valley Middle tutored in the morning, at lunch, and in the afternoon to make up for lost time and prepare 800 students for the annual exams.
"It wasn't that easy. So teachers did a bang up job in looking at the curriculum, looking at the data," Mew said.
Statewide 93,190 third through eighth-graders and tenth graders took the tests that measure whether their public schools keep pace with standards in No Child Left Behind and a category called Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).
Of 286 schools 49 percent met the mark for AYP - a 13% jump over last year.
But although Niu Valley students scored well, the school failed to meet the AYP standard because special needs students fell short in math scores.
Mew is frustrated by the all-or-nothing rating system.
"It's not fair. It doesn't really show the great school that we have," he said. "It does not reflect on our students at all or the teachers and the effort they've done."
Schools that did well have little time to celebrate.
The standards for the next assessment tests will be even higher.