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Hawaii has Big Plans for Race to the Top Funds

The state of Hawaii, one of ten winners of the Department of Education's (DOE) Race to the Top (RTTT) initiative, was awarded $75 million to improve its schools. In its application, Hawaii laid out several courses of action it will implement to comply with criteria emphasized by the DOE.

In its application, Hawaii created a five-point plan for driving student success. The first of these points involves standards and assessments. Hawaii is one of 49 states that has committed to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which prepares students for their futures by developing internationally benchmarked K-12 standards in languages arts and mathematics. Beginning in the 2010-2011 school year, the Hawaii State Assessments (HSAs) will be conducted online instead of on paper. The online assessments will be conducive to the development of the Data for School Improvement (DSI) system, which will serve as an online repository for standards-aligned materials and assessment items.

Another point addressed in Hawaii's application is the use of longitudinal data systems. The Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE) will enhance data collection from preschool through postsecondary education. This data can be used by teachers, administrators, leaders, and researchers to improve the effectiveness of educators and differentiate instruction based on student performance.

Hawaii understands that having great teachers and leaders will contribute to the success of its students, so the state also plans to focus on improving teacher and principal evaluations. Educator evaluations will be based on student success, including learning gains from the HSA, observed practice, and school-based leadership. Principal evaluations will be based on school-wide student growth, leadership, professionalism, managerial skills, and observations by peers and superintendents.

To improve its lowest-achieving schools, Hawaii plans to provide additional support to struggling students and schools. The HIDOE plans to create the Office of Strategic Reform (OSR) and help priority schools and zones of school innovation (ZSI) schools. The department will increase early childhood education support, expand student engagement efforts, and extend learning opportunities for ZSI students. The HIDOE will also address other issues impacting student success, including nonacademic obstacles.

Hawaii's final point is to obtain community and organizational support for reform. The state has already received commitments from the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) and the Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA), along with all of its public schools.

As it is early in the process, the HIDOE is still unsure of how it will proceed or what projects might result in procurement opportunities for vendors. GovWin will continue tracking Hawaii's progress and will post solicitations upon release.

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