High-achieving public schools win $1 million worth of awards

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - By: Melanie Yamaguchi

The Hawaii State Department of Education presented $1 million worth of awards to high-achieving public schools Friday for the first annual "Strive HI" awards ceremony at King Intermediate School.

The 32 schools received awards between $12,500 and $100,000 for demonstrating significant academic progress for two consecutive years. It's part of the DOE's "Strive HI" campaign that aims to transform public education in Hawaii. The funds come from the state's Race to the Top federal grant received in 2010.

"These awards signify a very significant shift in our strategic direction," DOE superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said. "That's the strategic plan that is supported by our Board of Education and the department together because we're going away from a one-size-fits-all, you-make-it-on-the-test-or-you-don't version of success to one that really looks at the progress of each school in each community."

Matayoshi said these schools are not getting the recognition they deserve under the federal accountability system which focuses on at what schools made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) based on standardized test results.

"The schools really reflect, first of all, the school community and the leadership of their principal and their teachers working together," she said. "Many of them are in communities where they've not been traditionally recognized as high-achieving schools and yet the principals and teachers have come together and really focused on the students and have been able to move the schools forward."

The awards must be used for upgrades at the schools which could include purchases for technology, music and science equipment.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who also attended the ceremony, said these schools represent transformation in the public education system.

"Everyone here today represents an opportunity that has been grasped and a goal that has been obtained," he said. "Everyone here was challenged, challenged to bring out the best that they have within themselves and have succeeded."

The following schools earned the highest awards of $100,000 for completing the "restructuring" provision of the federal No Child Left Behind law by meeting annual progress goals for two consecutive years:

1. Hilo Intermediate School

2. King Intermediate School

3. Moanalua Middle School

4. Halau Ku Mana Public Charter School

5. Waters of Life Public Charter School

The following schools received $50,000 for demonstrating "restructuring":

6. Benjamin Parker

7. Nanakuli

The following schools received $12,500 for ranking in the top 5 percent in the state for reading or math growth:

8. Aliamanu Elementary (math)

9. Haaheo Elementary (math)

10. Haleiwa Elementary (reading)

11. Hokulani Elementary (reading)

12. James Campbell High (math)

13. Kahakai Elementary (math)

14. Kanoelani Elementary (math)

15. Kanuikapono Learning Center Public Charter School (reading)

16. Ke Kula O Ehunuikaimalino (reading)

17. Keaau Middle (math)

18. Kilohana Elementary (math)

19. King William Lunalilo Elementary (math)

20. Kohala High (reading)

21. Kula Kaiapuni O Anuenue (reading)

22. Lanakila Elementary (math)

23. Manoa Elementary (reading)

24. Maunawili Elementary (reading)

25. Pahoa High & Intermediate (math)

26. Red Hill Elementary (reading)

27. William P. Jarrett Middle (reading)

The following schools won $25,000 for achieving the top 5 percent in both categories:

28. Thomas Jefferson Elementary School  

29. King Kekaulike

31. Kalanianaole Elementary & Intermediate

32. Keaau High

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