The Hawaii Department of Education has launched a neat website that allows users to compare how different kinds of students are performing and improving academically.
On the department’s "Hawaii Growth Model" data visualization website users can interact with various datasets to home in on region, individual schools and diverse student groups using two yardsticks: proficiency and growth. The tool generates bubble charts that plot how select sets of students are faring in comparison to their peers. This overview explains how to navigate the site.
The website, which until now was only available to those within the DOE, is part of a larger effort to make information about school performance more transparent.
"The ability to visualize growth data in context with how a school or Complex is performing in relation to others over time is critical to building understanding and collaborative action," said DOE Deputy Superintendent Ronn Nozoe in a statement.
One caveat: the Growth Model only uses data from the state’s standardized test, which is only administered in math and reading and among select grade levels.
Photo: A sample scatter plot showing achievement and growth among schools in the Kalihi and Aina Haina areas. (Screenshot courtesy of growthmodel.hawaiipublicschools.org.)
— Alia Wong
Efforts are underway at Hawaii’s community colleges to bolster the state’s agriculture, energy and health industries by developing a range of new vocational training programs.
The newest addition is a course at Leeward Community College that will teach students the basics of landscape maintenance and installation.
According to a press release, the demand in Hawaii for landscape technicians is on the rise. The announcement cites 2012 statistics in a trade magazine suggesting that 53 percent of lawn care, irrigation, maintenance and installation companies across the country expected higher profits this year.
The 48-hour course, Basic Training in Landscape Maintenance and Installation, will be offered starting next February. The class costs $450 and stretches over the course of three months. Using the Professional Landcare Network Training manual, the course blends classroom learning with hands-on experience and covers topics ranging from injury prevention and landscape planning to turf installation and irrigation system repair.
The training is being funded as part of the state’s $24.6 million C3T grant. The grant was awarded in 2011 through the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration and is meant to support the development of industry training programs and boost college completion rates while creating jobs.
The grant has also helped Honolulu Community College set up its course on electric and hybrid vehicle repair and maintenance.
Photo: Landscaping at Maui’s Grand Wailea Resort. (Courtesy of Jim Larrison via Flickr.)
— Alia Wong
Hawaii’s Sen. Mazie Hirono is one of 100 members of Congress being recognized today by the Campaign for Children for their leadership on children’s issues.
The national bipartisan advocacy group praised Hirono as a politician who actually delivers on her promises to improve the lives of keiki, particularly in the realms of early childhood care and education. The list includes those who introduced, co-sponsored and voted for legislation meeting children’s needs, in addition to members who spearheaded other efforts to improve the health and well-being of kids.
Just 14 other senators and 35 representatives join Hirono as “Champions of Children.” (Another 50 congress members earned lesser recognition as “Defenders of Children” who support policies that support children’s well-being.)
No other member of Hawaii’s delegation made the list.
Photo: Hirono with keiki. (Courtesy of Mazie Hirono’s facebook page.)
— Alia Wong
More than three dozen children at Waipahu Elementary School, most of them first graders, were hospitalized today after getting sick from what appears to be food poisoning.
State education and health officials are investigating the outbreak using temperature logs and a sample lunch, according to the Hawaii Department of Education. They’ll also look into any outside food that was brought on campus and whether anyone came to school sick.
The 40 or so students affected were treated on campus by Emergency Medical Services personnel and then taken to area hospitals for further evaluation.
The children began to show symptoms at around 1:15 p.m., slightly more than two hours after they ate. Nearly 1,150 students total attend Waipahu Elementary.
Photo: A fire department vehicle at Waipahu Elementary. (Screenshot courtesy of KITV.com.)
— Alia Wong
KITV reports that Rainbow Warrior head coach Norm Chow fired two football coaches today: defensive coordinator Thom Kaumeyer and linebackers coach Tony Tuioti. The decision is effective immediately.
Kaumeyer, who had just finished his second season at the University of Hawaii, formerly served on the staff of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. Tuioti is a former UH defensive lineman.
It’s been a tumultuous few weeks for the Rainbow Warriors.
The firings come just a day after the UH football program’s memorial service for the late Willis Wilson, a walk-on running back who drowned at Sandy Beach in the early hours of Nov. 30. The Rainbow Warriors ended its season later that day with a win against Army — its only win of the season.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
— Alia Wong
Sarah Jenkins is taking matters into her own hands.
The Molokai High School junior’s efforts to improve the reproduction of the endangered Hawaiian Coot by creating artificial floating nests in Mapulehu’s Pipio Pond won her accolades at two of the state’s science fairs earlier this year.
That, however, was just the beginning.
Now she’s spearheading a project to improve the environment for the endemic bird using thermal imaging to monitor its population, count eggs and draw connections between growth rates and land conditions, such as the presence of mangrove forests.
And that’s all happening with the help of the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s College of Engineering, one of several academic institutions Jenkins approached after realizing she lacked the resources to make her goals a reality.
College of Engineering Dean Peter Crouch was impressed. He and Professor Magdy Iskander, director of the college’s Hawaii Center for Advanced Communications, invited Jenkins and her parents to the Manoa campus to meet with graduate students and tour the center, which engages in research using broadband wireless telecommunications and advanced radar technologies, to learn more about its thermal imaging system.
One thing led to another, and now Crouch and Iskander say they’re buying Jenkins her own thermal imaging system that’s suitable for wildlife observations. The center also donated Jenkins two sets of water-quality measurement equipment — complete with wireless sensors and an iPod Touch for data collection — to help her monitor the nesting conditions.
Jenkins is already using some of the equipment.
Photo: The Hawaiian Coot. (Courtesy of KiwiHugger via Flickr)
— Alia Wong
Computer Science Week kicks off today, and in Hawaii it’ll wrap up with a $10,000 technology donation for Schofield Barracks’ Hale Kula Elementary School, where 99 percent of the 900 students are military dependents.
The check is coming from the national nonprofit Code.org, which promotes “Hour of Code” events throughout the world during Computer Science Week. The “Hour of Code” campaign is aimed at boosting awareness about computer programming and coding.
According to a press release from the Hawaii Department of Education, Code.org’s technology donation recognizes Hale Kula’s commitment to computer science. The school is in its third and final year of a grant from the Department of Defense for a blended-learning pilot program in which fourth- and fifth-grade students virtually access their curriculum for half of the week.
It’s part of a larger effort to encourage students to enter the computer programming industry. According to the press release, computer-programming jobs are growing three times faster than the rate of students entering the field — a trend that’s gaining attention in countries across the globe. Few U.S. schools, however, teach computer programming.
Hale Kula is receiving the $10,000 check this Friday at its own Hour of Code event. All of the elementary school’s teachers and students have signed up to learn coding at the event, as have Gov. Neil Abercrombie and DOE Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.
Photo: Code. (Courtesy Riebart via Flickr.)
— Alia Wong
The Hawaii State Ethics Commission is reminding teachers that a good deed isn’t always ethical.
The commission issued an advisory today urging Department of Education employees not to promote Macy’s seasonal Make-A-Wish fundraiser at school.
According to the advisory, a number of public school teachers and administrators have been asked to support and encourage students to participate in the department store’s “A Million Reasons to Believe” promotion. In the campaign, kids write letters to Santa and then deposit them in boxes at Macy’s stores. Macy’s then promises to donate $1 for each letter to the Make-A-Wish foundation, a nonprofit that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.
The state ethics code prohibits public employees from fundraising or seeking support for a private charity such as Make-A-Wish at work, the advisory explains. That means DOE employees can’t use their state emails to promote the Believe campaign, use school equipment to print out letter templates, dedicate classroom-time to letter-writing or collect letters on campus.
Photo: Christmas at Macy’s in Portland, Ore. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
— Alia Wong
In the United States, student performance on a set of prominent international exams hasn’t budged much over the past decade. Meanwhile, students in East Asian countries such as China, Singapore and South Korea are still performing ahead of the pack — and a few unexpected countries are making significant gains.
Like many standardized exams, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Programme for International Assessment faces widespread criticism from experts who question its cookie-cutter approach and its ability to adequately reflect the academic performance of such a diverse array of student populations. But others say the results from the 2012 assessment, which were released today, offer a useful and unmatched tool for education policymakers who want to better prepare today’s students for an increasingly globalized economy.
The results suggest that while American students are just about average compared to their peers in other countries in reading, math and science, their stagnant scores are falling flat against a backdrop of notable improvement in some countries — Vietnam and Poland included — and continuing excellence in others. And that’s causing some consternation among federal education officials, according to the Huffington Post.
The exams were administered last fall among 28 million students ages 15 and 16 in 34 countries. The U.S. ranked 26th in math (with a slightly-below-average score of 481), 17th in reading (with an average score of 498), and 21st in science (with an average score of 497).
Check out this Education Week piece for an in-depth overview and interactive dataset.
Photo courtesy stevecadman via Flickr
— Alia Wong
Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced today that he’s appointed Grant Y.M. Chun, vice president of A&B Properties Inc., to the Hawaii Board of Education.
Chun is taking over the board’s Maui seat, which had been vacant for the past month or so since former member Wesley Lo resigned. Chun is filling in on an interim basis.
Before assuming his position at A&B Properties — the real estate subsidiary of Alexander & Baldwin, the state’s fourth largest landowner — Chun served as managing director of Maui County. He’s also a practicing attorney.
Outside of his professional roles, Chun serves on the boards of a range of community organizations and public agencies, including the Maui Economic Development Board, the Maui Regional Board of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation and the Chancellor’s Advisory Council for UH Maui College.
The appointment is effective immediately and is subject to Senate approval.
Photo: Grant Y.M. Chun (Courtesy Gov. Neil Abercrombie)
— Alia Wong
A federal judge ruled today that the trial of the man accused of scamming the University of Hawaii into paying for a fake Stevie Wonder concert has to stick in the Aloha State, according to the Associated Press.
The alleged scammer, Marc Hubbard, had made a motion to move his trial to either North Carolina, where he’s from, or Florida on the grounds that the amount of negative publicity surrounding the Wonder Blunder makes it impossible for him to get a fair trial. Hubbard’s attorney, William Harrison, also argued that the trial’s location in Hawaii is too inconvenient for many of the witnesses who live out-of-state or overseas, AP reports.
But U.S. Attorney Les Osborne said Hawaii isn’t any less convenient a location than the East Coast is considering most of the out-of-state witnesses live in California. He also suggested that the negative Wonder Blunder publicity hasn’t centered specifically on Hubbard.
Judge Leslie Kobayashi ultimately denied Hubbard’s motion, reasoning that “the publicity hasn’t risen to a level of widespread animosity toward Hubbard,” according to the AP.
Hubbard is accused of swindling $200,000 out of the university by claiming to have connections with Stevie Wonder. The university, which was poised to host the concert as a fundraiser for the UH athletics department, made the $200,000 deposit and began selling tickets before learning that the arrangement was a scam.
Photo: Marc Hubbard mug shot (Screenshot from KITV.com)
— Alia Wong
A 400-foot Japanese Navy mega-submarine that traces back to World War II and was scuttled by the U.S. military in 1946 has been discovered by University of Hawaii and NOAA researchers off of the southwest coast of Oahu.
The landmark discovery of the “I-400” warship, which was found submerged 2,300 below water in August, is being described by UH as a feat that “resolves a decades-old Cold War mystery of just where the lost submarine lay, and recalls a different era as one war ended and a new, undeclared conflict emerged.” (Researchers had to review their findings with the U.S. and Japanese governments before announcing the discovery.)
The I-400 was the largest submarine ever built until the introduction of nuclear-powered submarines in the 1960s. Unlike any other diesel-electric submarine to this day, it could travel a range of 37,500 miles — one and a half times around the world — without refueling, according to the UH press release. The innovative submarine could hold up to three folding-wing float-plane bombers, each with a 1,800-pound bomb, that could be catapulted off within minutes after surfacing.
But the bombs were never used. At the end of WWII, the U.S. Navy captured five Japanese submarines — including the I-400 — and brought them to Pearl Harbor for inspection. The U.S. then sank the submarines off the coast of Oahu when the Soviet Union demanded access to them in 1946, claiming that it didn’t know where the warships were located. The Cold War was just beginning, and the U.S. didn’t want the submarine technology in the hands of the Soviet Union. The discovery of the I-400 marks the fourth such submarine to be discovered by UH.
Terry Kerby, a veteran undersea explorer who serves as operations director and chief submarine pilot at the university’s Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, led the undertaking. The UH undersea laboratory has been searching for submarines and other submerged artifacts for more than two decades as part of NOAA’s maritime heritage research efforts.
“The I-400 has been on our ‘to-find’ list for some time. It was the first of its kind of only three built, so it is a unique and very historic submarine,” said Kerby. …
“These historic properties in the Hawaiian Islands recall the critical events and sacrifices of World War II in the Pacific, a period which greatly affected both Japan and the United States and shaped the Pacific region as we now know it,” said (Hans) Van Tilburg, maritime heritage coordinator for NOAA in the Pacific Islands region. “Our ability to interpret these unique weapons of the past and jointly understand our shared history is a mark of our progress from animosity to reconciliation. That is the most important lesson that the site of the I-400 can provide today.”
Photo: The Japanese I-400. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)
— Alia Wong
The Hawaii Department of Education is temporarily pulling the plugs on a controversial sexual health education pilot program in response to the uproar it caused amid recent debates over same-sex marriage, according to a press release sent out to the media today.
Pono Choices, a set of lesson plans about teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections that was funded by the federal government and developed by the University of Hawaii, was being piloted at 12 public schools and had been slated for implementation at another eight later this school year.
It was one of seven DOE-approved sex-ed programs. But in recent hearings over the same-sex marriage bill — which was recently signed into law — Pono Choices became a focus of much of the opponents’ testimony. Critics described the program as an overly graphic endorsement of oral and anal sex that wasn’t appropriate for the middle schoolers who were learning it.
Leila Hayashida, the department’s superintendent for the Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Student Support, had this statement:
“Recent concerns over the department’s sexual education curriculum have resulted in misstatements and misunderstandings about the learning that takes place in the classroom … We recently asked the (Center on Disability Studies) to address public concerns about the curriculum’s descriptions of healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationships.”
— Alia Wong
Among education circles, 2013 may very well be remembered as the year of early learning.
An analysis of legislation this year, published by the Education Commission of the States, concludes that state policymakers are increasingly throwing their weight behind efforts to enhance early learning and developmental services for young children. Policies run the gamut from improving governance of programs to increasing funding for literacy initiatives.
Hawaii, which along with Mississippi passed legislation this year to expand public preschool services, was spotlighted in the report. Now, 41 states provide public funds for programs serving 4-year-olds.
The analysis looked at 38 bills from 25 states. Other highlights include a new pre-K scholarship program for low-income families in Minnesota and the reallocation of K-12 funds and tax revenues toward early childhood programs in Texas and North Dakota.
Check out the full report to learn more about other legislation and initiatives across the country.
Photo: Seagull Schools preschoolers at a rally at the state Capitol in April. (Alia Wong/Civil Beat)
— Alia Wong
The University of Hawaii and several other community organizations have been hosting a series of free workshopsfor aspiring Native Hawaiian college students who might be wondering how they’ll scrape together the money to make their higher education goals a reality. Attending UH can cost an estimated $10,000 per year when all expenses — including tuition, books, transportation and housing — are taken into account.
The “scholarship aha" is intended to help Native Hawaiian students who are interested in attending one of UH’s 10 campuses navigate the world of federal and state financial aid and take advantage of various private scholarships. College scholarships earmarked for Native Hawaiian students, including those from the Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship Program and Kamehameha Schools, amount to nearly $23 million. The 18 workshops, which are being held on six islands, also provide tips on how to best prepare for the transition from high school to college.
The aha is being put together by all 10 UH campuses, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, GEAR UP Hawaii, Pacific Financial Aid Association and the Native Hawaiian Education Association. Family members, teachers, counselors and the like are also encouraged to attend.
The next workshop is being held in Lihue the evening of December 3 at Kauai Community College. Other December workshops are being held throughout Oahu and in Kahului. Additional sessions are scheduled for several islands in January.
Click here for a full schedule.
Photo: Morning protocol at Ka Umeke Kaeo, a Hawaiian immersion charter school in Hilo. (PF Bentley/Civil Beat)
— Alia Wong