The Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) is pleased to have reached a successful settlement with the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) after filing a grievance about changes and problems with the HIDOE's Professional Development (PD) Credit System. The HSTA advocated for its members for more than a year in various discussions with the department on this issue, and as a result, we have:

  • Confirmed members did not lose pay as a result of the credit delays and/or changes in the administration of the PD credit program,
  • Secured significant improvements and clarifications to the Professional Development Educate, Empower and Excel (PDE3) system, and procedures outlined in the Professional Development Credit System Manual,
  • Obtained revisions to the reclassification memo and instructions, and
  • Ensured an open line of communication with the HIDOE about PD, and we will continue to have discussions to address improvements and expansion of the program.

Charter school teachers should be aware that these changes may or may not affect you as individual charter schools may or may not participate in the HIDOE professional development course offerings.

Many educators may remember that in the fall of 2018, the HSTA filed a complaint with the superintendent, challenging the Department of Education’s changes (in SY 2017–18) to the PD credit system, including significant changes to the course and portfolio approval process.

In addition, in November 2018, in order to further protect members who may have been harmed, HSTA put out a call for members negatively impacted by the changes.  At the same time, we filed a class grievance to protect members’ interests against any potential financial harm. We were especially interested in anyone who had their reclassification delayed, causing loss of pay.

Review of credit delays

HSTA filed the grievance because of a concern that the slowdown in processing and approving portfolios may have resulted in members experiencing delays in reclassification and pay raises. We secured an agreement with the DOE to complete an audit of all courses which had delays in posting credits. Through that process, HSTA confirmed there was no instance in which credits were delayed beyond reclassification dates. Thus HSTA confirmed members did not lose pay as a result of reclassification delays and changes in the administration of the PDE3 course program.

Revisions to the Professional Development Credit System

In school year 2017–18, the HIDOE changed the department responsible for the administration of the PDE3 System. This change resulted in significant impacts to the courses offered and the experience of participants.  After HSTA raised this issue to the superintendent and filed a grievance, a workgroup was formed to review the PD Credit System manual.

The HSTA played a significant role on the workgroup and after, working directly with Assistant Superintendent Donna Lum Kagawa to secure revisions in specific key areas of the process, including the following:

  • Completely revised the PD Credit System Manual,
  • Streamlined and clarified the course approval process, with clear and specific deadlines, reducing the time instructors have to wait for new course or section approval,
  • Streamlined and clarified the portfolio approval process, with clear and specific deadlines, reducing delays in approval of portfolios and/or posting of credits,
  • Clarified guidelines for determining the number of credits awarded for a PD course (3-6),
  • Ensured equity of options for teachers who are on neighbor islands and in rural areas, making travel for professional development cost prohibitive,1
  • Increased flexibility in the total number of participants,2
  • Achieved equity of treatment between classroom teachers and non-classroom teachers which allowed an expansion of course topics offered and eligible for PD credit,
  • Increased flexibility for Learning Results Portfolio (LRP) requirements, allowing for portfolios to reflect a wide range of outcomes that can impact all levels including students, programs, leadership, school, or community environment,3
  • Created an advisory committee. Each year an advisory committee comprising representatives from the HIDOE, HSTA, the Hawaii Teachers Standard Board (HTSB), and others will meet to provide quality review and assurance of the PD Credit System processes (see page 9 of the manual for more information).

Revisions to reclassification annual memo and instructions

Through the grievance process, HSTA was able to secure revisions to the annual reclassification memo and instructions. These revisions ensure teachers are made aware of their option to formally appeal any denial of reclassification and can request an extension for courses where the completion date is delayed due to the re-evaluation of educators' portfolios (see FAQs on last page of memo). This ensures teachers don’t lose out on opportunities for reclassification if there are delays in posting of credits.

Charter schools should note that the reclassification process is determined by the individual employer. Some charter schools choose to utilize the HIDOE services to process reclassification, others have their own separate reclassification process.

Next steps

Expanded options for 1-2 PD credits

In addition to resolving the grievance, HSTA is pleased to report that further discussions with the HIDOE are ongoing to expand teachers’ opportunities for professional development. We are currently discussing the possibility for other options for 1-2 credits including, but not limited to, the department's recognition of micro-credentials for PD credit.

New and expanded PD courses

In the last two years, the number of courses available to teachers has dropped significantly. The reason: many former instructors elected to not “jump through new hoops” to offer PD classes. The HSTA believes that the HIDOE is fully committed to the improvements in the PDE3 System and strongly encourages members to consider pursuing opportunities to offer courses. The department is actively seeking new course instructors and/or previous course instructors. If you are interested, the HIDOE is offering PDE3 Credit Course Training, on Monday, Oct. 7 and Tuesday, Oct. 8. Click here for more information. 

HSTA has requested that the HIDOE offer additional training dates beyond Oct. 7 and 8 and options to offer training sessions on the neighbor islands.  In addition, HSTA is looking to expand our course offerings in the near future and will be sending out information for teachers who may want to offer a course as an approved HSTA instructor. If you are an HSTA member who is interested in offering professional development courses, please email

1 Previous requirements included an in-person meeting. This requirement has been eliminated. The system now clearly allows options for online, hybrid, asynchronous, and synchronous PD offerings.

2 Previous rules limited the number in a class to 30 participants. HSTA argued that instructors are professionals and can determine the number of participants they can successfully support. Therefore, enrollment caps have been eliminated, but instructors will need to provide information on how they will support all participants.

3 Opportunities for alternate measurements of course completion outside of traditional paper documentation could include digital documentation, such as video, audio, and/or electronic data. There will also be alternate requirements for student work samples for non-classroom teacher participants, and simplification of portfolio caption requirements.