Board Unanimously Approves Request to Modify Hawai‘i Graduation Requirements

April 2, 2020, 5:06 PM HST · Updated April 2, 5:06 PM
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The Board of Education (BOE) unanimously voted today to approve the Hawaii State Department of Education’s (HIDOE) request to modify high school graduation and commencement requirements under Board Policy 102-15 for the graduating class of 2020.

This approval means the Department will be able to move forward with finalizing a graduation plan that principals, complex area and state leadership have been developing over the past two weeks.

For students who do not meet proficiency, an extension or other options will be available, and further considerations are being made for students within block or multi-track schedules. The plan also includes additional considerations for academic honors including Advanced Placement (AP) assessments, International Baccalaureate (IB) assessments and dual credit as well as workforce opportunities like Career and Technical Education and military designations.

The full plan will be released early next week pending a final review and approval by Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto.

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“Adjusting to this global crisis has required school districts nationwide to rethink how education is delivered. We understand that students, families and our teachers want answers and we’re hoping that today’s decision will provide some closure as the Department will now be able to move forward with sharing and implementing plans for the remainder of the school year,” BOE Chairwoman Catherine Payne said.

There are currently 11,183 seniors, with approximately 90% eligible to graduate on time based on third quarter grades, which are still being processed. The Department is starting to identify and categorize students into four bands to provide necessary supports.

  • Band 1: Students who are on track based on third quarter grades will receive a diploma.  Enrichment and learning opportunities will continue to ensure they are ready for career, military and post-secondary opportunities.
  • Band 2: Students who are not meeting proficiency based on their third quarter grades. They are targeted for intervention and remediation to help them graduate on time. These individualized plans will be developed at the school level.
  • Band 3: Students who are not meeting proficiency based on third quarter grades and are unable to achieve proficiency during the fourth quarter time period. Supports being proposed include providing summer school or E-School options.
  • Band 4: Students who were failing by the end of the first semester and are unable to achieve proficiency during the fourth quarter and with summer options. Administrators, counselors and teachers will work directly with these students and their families to develop a personalized plan.

“Our priority from the start of this crisis has been our students, staff and their families. Developing this plan was a heavy lift by school and complex leaders and was done so with guidance from our federal, state and county partners,” added Kishimoto. “This waiver does not relax our standards. It provides the flexibility to ensure our eligible seniors graduate on time and smoothly transition to their chosen path after high school.”

The Department will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and make a decision by April 15 regarding commencement ceremonies. School, complex area and state teams have started discussing alternative means of celebration in the event traditional ceremonies cannot be held.

The BOE also unanimously voted to approve the Department’s waiver request to cancel federally required statewide standardized assessments for the 2019-2020 school year. This includes Smarter Balanced Assessments for English language arts/literacy and mathematics, Hawaii State Science Assessments and Biology 1 end of course exams; Hawaii State Alternate Assessments; and the Kaiapuni Assessment Educational Outcomes (KĀʻEO). The public can submit comments until April 10 regarding this waiver through an online survey here. For more information as well as the anticipated impact, click here.

School facilities have been closed to students since March 19, with traditional, in-school instruction temporarily discontinued until at least April 30. All HIDOE employees continue to work remotely with the exception of those who are considered essential and must perform their duties at a campus or office.

Schools have launched distance learning opportunities and/or learning packets were distributed via email, school websites and some in-person. Work packets will not be graded, but many teachers are identifying unique ways to provide feedback to students. The Department has also stood up a resource for parents available at bit.ly/HIDOEVirtualLearningParentResource. HIDOE COVID-19 updates will continue to be posted on the Department’s website at hawaiipublicschools.org.

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