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Board of Education OKs next phase of department's plan to help students


The state Board of Education on Thursday unanimously approved a plan on how the department will carry out the vision of 258 public schools for the next six years.

Board members say it's a good plan, but there's a lot of work ahead.

"It's a good plan," Vice Chair Kaimana Barcarse said at the meeting. "There's been many iterations and incarnations, and there will also be adjustments that are made along the way. But what I'm looking forward to most today is letting loose the dock lines, putting up that sail, and we go."

The strategic plan lays out a blueprint for how the Department of Education can move past pandemic challenges.

Part of the plan is focused on providing high quality learning for students and recruiting teachers. The goal is for students to be proficient in reading by the end of the third grade and adept at math by the end of eighth grade.

This second phase of the strategic plan is the department's implementation plan.

The department plans to support vulnerable populations by hiring liaisons to communities between Pacific Islander students, families and schools; support early learning by partnering with government agencies to boost the number of public kindergarten classrooms; support middle school students by creating 24/7 access to online tutoring for eighth-grade students; and collaborate with colleagues and other support services to help high school graduates' transition to higher education.

Creating the strategic plan was a year-long process. Superintendent Keith Hayashi said it involved input from over 17,000 stakeholders and 50 meetings.

It's the first time since the department had a strategic plan in about seven years. In 2020, former Superintendent Christina Kishimoto presented the 2030 Promise Plan, which was never approved.

Cheri Nakamura, director of the education advocacy group He'e Coalition, said she's hopeful the plan will have positive results for students.

"We want to see what the impact is," Nakamura said in an interview. "We need some kind of milestones and targets to make sure that we're going in the right direction. Because without, we won't know."

Hayashi said the department is ready to move forward, adding that the plan will help prepare students to be globally competitive and locally committed.

Cassie Ordonio is the culture and arts reporter for Hawaiʻi Public Radio. She previously worked for Honolulu Civil Beat, covering local government, education, homelessness and affordable housing. Contact her at cordonio@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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