Last week marked the official end of Hawaii’s Race to the Top effort – the only state to finish on time, without the aid of a no cost extension. It is worth remembering where we were four years ago. Different public officials held in key leadership posts, as the grant was secured during Governor Linda Lingle’s tenure and under Superintendent Pat Hamamoto’s watch. Furlough Fridays were still in effect, and Hawaii’s bid for the $75M was widely viewed a long shot at best. And then the first year culminated in a vote of no confidence from the US Department of Education.
So it is worth pausing to reflect on exactly what has been accomplished since. The Harold K.L. Castle Foundation joined The Learning Coalition, Hawaii Community Foundation, and Kamehameha Schools in hosting a community wide conversation where educators shared their stories of progress with the approximately 100 organizations that signed letters of support. Dozens of stories were shared during a round robin format. Here are the four stories that I was fortunate to hear:
- Superintendent Matayoshi described how the Race to the Top award provided catalytic infrastructure to make good on the promises of Act 51 and the BOE/DOE Strategic Plan. She shared that, despite a flat budget outlook since 2008, all the right performance data – student test scores, attendance, college preparation, and college going – have risen.
- Kauai complex area superintendent Bill Arakaki described how his complex area’s data framework helps community partners provide support to individual educators and schools, all in service of a larger vision of collective impact
- Trintje Hironaga and Anne Kauhi of Ka’u-Kea’au-Pahoa told of the five year cycle to “grow their own” leadership capacity. All first and second year teachers are provided with a dedicated mentor. Teachers in their third year then join a professional learning community, while those in year four are expected to serve as department heads and grade level chairs. By the fifth year, they then mentor beginning teachers.
- And Kailua Kalaheo complex area superintendent Suzanne Mulcahy shared the deep expertise in student literacy that her principals and schools have begun to demonstrate, facilitated by their instructional leadership teams and Common Core Lab Cohort.
The depth and magnitude of the stories left outside partners deeply impressed and wanting to know more. A few of these stories can be seen in this profile video from KKP on Hawaii Island found here.