Equitable Access to Education
By 2030, ensure access to inclusive, quality education for all people that fosters lifelong learning.
A unique diversity and cross-section of cultures are part of what makes Hawai‘i special. It is important that Hawai‘i’s diverse groups are well-represented across sectors and have equitable access to quality education, work, and services.
The achievement gap is a term used to describe the observed and persistent disparity of educational measures between the performance of certain groups of students defined by socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and gender (Hawai‘i’s Public Education Blueprint). Educational equity is based on opportunity and inclusion. Personal conditions should not dictate one’s level of inclusion and access, limiting potential for academic success. These factors may include level of physical or mental ability, housing conditions, limited access to healthcare, and English as a second language.
Hawai‘i’s Public Education
Blueprint and the Every Student Succeeds Act
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a longstanding commitment to equal opportunity for all students. Signed by President Obama on December 10, 2015, the ESSA replaced the No Child Left Behind Act. The state Blueprint for Hawai‘i’s public schools is consistent with ESSA, and seeks to maximize opportunities and possibilities for Hawai‘i to transform education. Starting in the 2017-18 school year, the Blueprint focuses on student success, teacher success, and system success.
Strong communities are the foundation of thriving schools and students, and therefore, public education in Hawai‘i mirrors the diverse communities throughout the state. Hawai‘i’s public education system is taking measures to support and empower communities and underrepresented groups to close the achievement gap, recognizing that approaches to curriculum and instruction need to be differentiated according to the needs of the students. The Blueprint focuses on strategies to support complexes, local schools, and teachers in making the most informed decisions for their schools and students.
The future of Hawai‘i’s environmental, social, and economic health is with the next generation. Students who are not engaged in learning or working may be lack opportunities for education and connection to their communities and ‘ohana, impeding their ability to contribute to society. The figure below tracks traditional school and work participation, though it does not capture other learning environments.
Figure 1: Youth not attending school and not working by age group over time. The proportion of students between 16 and 24 years of age is 11%. (Data Source: National KIDS COUNT Data Center)
All of Hawai‘i’s population has access to free K-12 public school. However, early childhood and post-secondary school is a significant expenditure in Hawai‘i. Multiple sources of supplemental funding exist to supplement these costs including, but not limited to, the following: Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); USA Grants; Strada; Perkins; Hawai‘i State Department of Education (DOE); University of Hawai‘i (UH) System; Mini grants from KUPU; Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation; Employment Training Fund (ETF) within Workforce Development Division (WDD); Office of Hawaiian Affairs; Career and Technical Education (CTE).
Access to Early Childhood Education
Many families lack access and options to properly care for young children at a level of early childhood education due to varying circumstances. It is important that families have access to affordable early childhood programs and services such as a licensed family child care home or center-based care.
Education Attainment of Underrepresented Groups
College is one of the many next steps toward a career path and meaningful work. It is important that those that want to attend college have access to this option.
Figure 4: This chart shows the proportion of ethnicities among college students (Data Source: Ballot Pedia, 2014)
The high school graduation rate for Native Hawaiians is 92.6%, which is averaged from 91.5% male and 93.7% female; this is very close to the State average of 94.4% (Source: OHA and US Census Bureau American Community Survey 2010-2016). However, the proportion of Native Hawaiians that have a post-secondary degree is much lower than the state average – 14.5% for males and 19.2% for females (16% weighted average), compared to the state average of 44.9% of adults aged 25-44 held a post-secondary degree in 2013 (UHERO). Female Native Hawaiians have slightly higher rates in both categories.
Cumulative Increase in UH System Degrees and Certificates Earned: Native Hawaiian (FY2009-FY2017)
Figure 5: Native Hawaiian student success and representation in formal education.
In 2017, degrees earned by Native Hawaiian students accounted for 2,412, a 99.5% cumulative increase over the FY2009 baseline.
Since 2011, dual credit programs offered at Hawai‘i high schools statewide have been on the rise. These programs allow students the opportunity to earn college credits during their high school career. Research shows that students participating in the dual credit program enroll in college at much higher rates, and students who earn at least six college credits before completing high school are more likely to earn a college degree. (College and Career Readiness Indicators (CCRI) Report)
Figure 7: This line graph shows the number and percent of high school students that are enrolled in college courses. The purple line depicts the total number and percent of students and the blue line represents students taking six or more credits. (Data Source: College and Career Readiness Indicators (CCRI) Report)
Figure 8: This chart shows the college enrollment rate of the following student groups: Male, Native Hawaiian, and Economically Disadvantaged. The college enrollment rate is compared between those who enrolled in dual credit and those who did not. (Data Source: College and Career Readiness Indicators (CCRI) Report)
Workforce Participation Rate
Level of education may impact employment status and occupation. This graph shows general trends for job holders of various degree levels and professions.
Figure 9: Workforce participation and unemployment rate of population aged 25-64 by educational attainment (2010-14). Data Source: Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) Education Attainment in Hawai‘i Report, 2016)
Classroom Facilities and Learning Environment
Learning environment is a critical aspect of a student’s education experience. Therefore, schools across the state are upgrading their facilities to ensure that students are comfortable and able to stay focused. The Department of Education works to identify innovative, cost-effective strategies that will provide the best possible learning environments to all students and teachers across the state. For example, the Department of Education’s Heat Abatement Program is a priority to support classroom heat-relief through cooling options such as air conditioning, ceiling fans, solar light, trees, heat reflective paint, and more. On-going measures are underway to optimize conditions by providing all schools with well-resourced learning areas that are clean, safe, and conducive to creative and engaging teaching and learning experiences.
In addition, equitable access to high quality outdoor and ‘āina-based education programs are important for keiki from all backgrounds. Learn more about diverse learning environments in the ‘Āina-Based Education and Transformational Learning and Educational Attainment sections of the Dashboard.
This dataset shows the percentage of boys and girls in school that are experiencing violence and bullying. This data shows that while both boys and girls experience bullying and harassment at school, girls are disproportionately affected when it comes to dating violence and electronic bullying. (Status of Women in the States, 2015)
Learn More and Make A Difference
Learn More about programs that
are focused on providing equitable learning opportunities to students:
- Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is a longstanding commitment to equal opportunity for all students
- Hawai‘i Blueprint for Action for public schools developed by the Governor’s ESSA Team
- Punahou’s PUEO Program aims to raise student aspirations and preparation to enter and complete college through identifying middle and high school students in public schools with high academic potential but low economic opportunity
- Nā Wai ‘Ekolu is a group of K-12 educators along the Mānoa, Palolo, and Makiki streams who are developing and sharing curriculum, and working to monitor and restore the health of watersheds through connecting classroom to community through Citizen Science
- Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) Dashboard measures and tracks education, economic self-sufficiency, health, ‘āina-based stewardship, cultural participation, and governance of Native Hawaiians
- Kamehameha Schools Strategic Plan 2015-20 aims to achieve postsecondary education success in learners who will become leaders who give back to their local and global community