HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - "Before we used to say 'if I go to college'. Now we say 'when I go to college, where am I going to go?'"
Farrington High School Principal Al Carganilla boils down the cultural and educational shift of students there to its core. The Kalihi school has seen college enrollment of students skyrocket. Only 36 percent of 2010 graduates went to college, this year, 51 percent will attend. While still below the state average per school, it is a marked improvement.
"I said focus on the growth, don't focus on where we are as a school, because if we continue to do the things we need to do, the scores are going to come."
The scores are coming up across the state. A report released by Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education show improvements at numerous schools.
From 2012 to 2014, Kalaheo, Waimea, Waipahu, Waianau and Waialua high schools all had jumps of 10 percentage points or more in college enrollment.
"Whether it's here on Oahu, Big Island, Maui, Kauai, and also across the socio-economic stratum," said Karen Lee, Executive Director of Hawaii P-20.
In addition to the enrollment figures, proficiency numbers are up. In math, the score increased to 60 percent in 2014 from 49 percent in 2012. In reading, the proficiency was up to 72 percent from 67 percent over the same time period.
The focus of the initiative to increase college readiness and attendance has not only been on changing students' mindsets and performance - but teachers as well.
"Finding out the kinds of skills our kids need -- that was an eye opener for our teachers so that they could tailor our knowledge as far as meeting the rigors our kids need," said Carganilla.
Along with the change in academics came the change in attitude.
"It's really about changing the whole environment of the school, and for students to feel like they have a chance at success afterwards," said Lee.