Report: Hawaii students make strides in language arts, stumble in math

Report: Hawaii students make strides in language arts, stumble in math
Updated: Sep. 19, 2018 at 4:03 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The percentage of Hawaii public school students proficient in math stayed the same for a third year in 2017-18, but schools saw strides in English and literacy proficiency scores.

The state Department of Education released the results of its STRIVE-HI annual performance metrics this week, and acknowledged more work needs to be done to boost student achievement in math and science.

Other problem areas: High-needs students continue to fall behind their peers and chronic absenteeism remains a concern.

According to the figures, 54 percent of all public school students met proficiency standards for English language arts and literacy in standardized assessments during the 2017-18 school year. That's up from 50 percent in 2016-17.

The highest performers were 11th graders, 61 percent of whom tested proficient.

And in every grade that took the test, more than half of students met the mark.

But math was a very different story: Just 42 percent of students met proficiency targets. That's the same percentage as in the two previous years.

Eleventh graders had the lowest level of proficiency: Less than a third of students met targets. Third graders performed the best: 55 percent were proficient in math.

On the science assessment, 46 percent of public school students were proficient. That's the same as in 2016-17.

Meanwhile, "high needs" students continue to perform well bellow their peers. The Education Department says high needs students include those who are economically disadvantaged, in Special Education and English language learners.

In the school year that ended in May, just 39 percent of high needs students were proficient in English language arts. That compares to 72 percent among non-high needs students.

In math, 29 percent were proficient. Among non-high needs students, 58 percent met proficiency targets.

The so-called "achievement gap" was the largest among Special Education students (9 percent were proficient in language arts and 7 percent met targets in math).

But performance among those who are economically disadvantaged was also disappointing. Just 29 percent overall were proficient in math, while 39 percent were proficient in English language arts.

One significant bright spot this year: Some 42 percent of the Class of 2017 took an AP or other course to earn college credit while still in high school. Among the Class of 2013, that figure was 33 percent.

DOE officials recognized that more work needs to be done, meanwhile, to address chronic absenteeism.

From 2016 to 2018, the percentage of elementary and middle school students who were chronically absent — or gone for 15 or more days during a school year — stayed the same.

And among high school students, it actually nudged up, from 19 to 20 percent.

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