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Public invited to discuss Hawaiʻi's education system with state officials

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The state Board of Education is hosting a series of community meetings across the state until Nov. 10. They are an opportunity for residents and families to hear and discuss the state of the public education system.

Board members and officials from the state Department of Education will be in attendance. Comments from the meetings will help the BOE to develop a strategic plan, which will guide the DOE's mission, vision, priorities and strategies for at least the next three years.

The department's last strategic plan expired in 2020. For the last two years, education officials have largely reacted to the effects of the pandemic, while also dealing with a return to in-person learning.

Earlier this week, the department released the results of its Strive HI performance system for the 2021-22 school year. The system measures how schools, and the overall education system, support student growth beyond test scores.

The report shows progress was made in academic proficiency, but there are areas that need more attention.

"We're at a critical juncture in our state education system here in Hawaiʻi," said Bruce Voss, BOE chairperson. "Our high needs population — specifically our economically disadvantaged or English learners or our disabled population — more than 60% were not proficient in English language arts. More than 75% not proficient in math."

"Those people, those students, those families need attention. They need help. And this is the opportunity, not just for those families, but for all of us in the community to come together, to come forward with ideas, priorities, strategies to make sure that there are effective approaches to bring our students back up. So that no one in our public school system feels like they're getting a second-class education."

Voss tells HPR that the board anticipates a draft of the new strategic plan will be available for public review sometime in January. He anticipates the BOE will vote on the plan in February, and it will go into effect by the next school year.

Meeting dates and times can be found at boe.hawaii.gov

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at charlow@hawaiipublicradio.org or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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