Hawaii’s ACT college-readiness testing results trail national scores


Hawaii’s ACT college-readiness testing results trail national scores

By Star-Advertiser staff

POSTED: 03:56 p.m. HST, Aug 21, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 04:03 p.m. HST, Aug 21, 2013

The ACT today released the results of the graduating Class of 2013’s performance on its college-readiness standardized exam, which is administered across the United States. A record 5,345 Hawaii students in both public and private schools took the ACT test in spring 2012, representing a 75 percent increase from the Class of 2010.

However, results show a majority of Hawaii’s Class of 2013, similar to the rest of the nation, did not meet the test’s college-readiness benchmarks.

The Hawaii students, most of whom took the ACT as juniors in 2012 and graduated this past spring, represent about 40 percent of the Class of 2013 — the biggest group of students ever to take the ACT in Hawaii. Kaiser High graduate Jason Cheng, a Harvard University freshman this fall, was the only Hawaii student to earn a perfect score of 36 among those included in the results released today.

In a news release issued by the state Department of Education, Superintendent Ronn Nozoe said: “The good news is the high number of students challenging themselves with the college rigor of the ACT Test,” Nozoe added, “We look forward to improving our results as we continue our focus on college and career readiness.”

The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science. Each exam is graded on a scale of 1 to 36, and a student’s single composite score is the average of the four test scores. In each of the four subjects, ACT sets a college-readiness benchmark — the minimum score needed on an ACT subject-area test to indicate a 50 percent chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a C or higher in the corresponding credit-bearing college course. The benchmarks are set based on national level data.

Hawaii graduates who tested as juniors in the spring of 2012 posted a statewide average composite mark of 20.1. The national average composite score was 20.9.

In each benchmark area, Hawaii students also posted lower ACT scores than their national peers. In English, 56 percent of Hawaii students met the benchmark, compared to 64 percent nationwide. In mathematics, 43 percent (Hawaii) and 44 percent (nationwide); reading, 37 percent (Hawaii) and 44 percent (nationwide); and science, 30 percent (Hawaii), 36 percent (nationwide).

Acknowledging a need to boost college and career readiness among graduates, the DOE is taking steps to better prepare students by introducing the following new initiatives in 2013:

>> Strive HI Performance System: For the first time, the DOE is holding schools accountable for achievement, growth, achievement gaps, and college and career readiness.

As a part of the Strive HI Performance System, the DOE administers the ACT EXPLORE exam to all students in grades 8 and 9, the ACT Plan exam in grade 10, and the ACT Test in grade 11. (In April, some 50,000 intermediate and high school students at public schools statewide took a version the of test. Previously, the ACT College and Career Readiness test previously was voluntary for high school juniors.)

Based on local research, a composite score of 19 on the ACT exam indicates readiness for entry-level courses in the University of Hawaii System. The eleventh-grade results from the spring 2013 administration, included in the recently released Strive HI results, show that 34 percent of students met a composite score of 19 or higher. ACT scores being reported today are part of the last round of exams taken before the DOE began administering the ACT as part of the Strive HI Performance System.

>> Common Core State Standards (CCSS): For the first time this school year, all teachers are implementing the Common Core State Standards. The new standards are a set of consistent, high-quality academic standards that clearly define the knowledge and skills all students should master by the end of each school year in order to be on track for success.



DOE releases first round of Strive HI test scores

By Nanea Kalani

POSTED: 10:36 a.m. HST, Aug 19, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 04:20 p.m. HST, Aug 19, 2013

Fourteen public schools racked up the most points on the Department of Education’s new performance scale that goes beyond standardized test scores and looks at, for example, a school’s attendance, graduation and college-going rates, and the achievement gap between a school’s high-needs students and their peers.

The department this morning released the first round of results using its so-called Strive HI system.

Officials say the system is designed to support the state’s efforts to better prepare students for success in college and careers. It largely replaces academic mandates under the federal No Child Left Behind law that required schools meet rising reading and math proficiency targets or face sanctions.

“The Strive HI system really focuses on a continuum of improvement concept. No Child Left Behind was either ‘met’ or ‘not met’ — that’s it. It didn’t give schools a whole lot of detail about what was working at their schools,” said DOE Deputy Superintendent Ronn Nozoe.

Schools are assigned a score out of a possible 400 points that determines where they place on one of five category “steps.” The 14 top schools — 13 elementary and a K-8 charter school — earned spots in the “recognition” category.

Manoa Elementary scored the most points statewide, with 387 points. Ke Kula Niihau o Kekaha, a small charter school, posted the lowest score, with 17 points.

The bulk of the state’s 286 schools, or 80 percent, ranked in the second-highest category, “continuous improvement.” The remaining 15 percent of schools were designated “focus” or “priority” schools. (No schools were placed in the bottom category, “superintendent’s zone,” for the initial ratings.)

The improved standings are a marked contrast with how schools fared last year under the federal guidelines. For the 2011-12 school year, 51 percent of Hawaii’s 286 public schools did not meet NCLB adequate yearly progress targets, according to DOE data. That year, 82 schools were in restructuring mode — the most serious consequence under the law.

Overall, Hawaii schools collectively edged up in both reading and math proficiency for the 2012-13 school year. Seventy-two percent of students tested proficient in reading, up from 71 percent last year. Sixty percent of students tested proficient in math, up from 59 percent.

Meanwhile, over the past two years, the state as a whole narrowed by 12 percent the achievement gap in test scores between high-needs students — English language learners, those economically disadvantaged or with disabilities — and their non high-needs peers.

The 2013 Strive HI Index List of Schools can be found under “Related Downloads” at http://bit.ly/StriveHISystem.

To view a school’s rantk follow these steps:

>> Go to the DOE website’s homepage (http://www.hawaiipublicschools.org) and click on “Find Schools” (upper left-hand corner). Type in school name in “Find by school name” box, then click on “Show results.” After the school name appears, click on “Read more.” Under reports, click on Strive HI Performance System School Report. For charter schools, go to the charter schools page on the DOE’s website.