Hawai'i State News

Hawai‘i sees improvement in math scores, maintains gains in language arts, science

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Hawai‘i public schools saw an overall uptick in mathematics performance in the second full academic year following the pandemic, according to statewide assessment results the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education released today as part of its annual Strive HI Performance System report.

In language arts and science, Hawai‘i scores held steady, maintaining gains from the year prior. Kīlauea Elementary on Kauaʻi exceeded statewide trends, increasing academic proficiencies across all subjects.

While Hawai‘i’s student performance has not yet reached pre-pandemic levels, students are doing relatively well compared to students in other states. Compared to 11 other states that have reported Smarter Balanced Assessment results for the 2022-23 school year, Hawaiʻi is tied with Idaho for the highest proficiency rate in language arts and is one of four states that saw a 2-point or greater year-over-year gain in math proficiency. 

Key year-over-year 2022-23 Strive HI results

  • Statewide academic proficiency in language arts, math and science remained stable for language arts and science, and increased for math.
    • Language arts proficiency held at 52%.
    • Math proficiency increased by 2 points to 40%.
    • Science proficiency held at 40%.
  • Third-grade literacy (reading near/at or above grade level), decreased by 2 points to 78%.
  • Ninth-grade on time promotions increased by 3 points to 92%.
  • Percentage of 12th graders completing a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program held at 64%.
  • On-time graduation rate decreased by 1 point to 85%.
  • College-going rate continued to be at 50%.

Student attendance also improved with fewer students being chronically absent (15 days or more): down to 30% in SY 2022-23 compared with 37% the year prior. However, as with national trends, student absences continue to be high. Two years ago, statewide chronic absenteeism rates had gone from 18% to 37% as a result of quarantine and isolation requirements during COVID, the statewide bus driver shortages, and the U.S. Navy emergency fuel storage leak situations.

In addition to getting students back into the classroom, the Department continues to focus on improving learning outcomes for all students. The Department has been sharing its strategies and progress on achieving desired outcomes in the Board of Education’s Strategic Plan. The Department has presented to the Board on five of the 27 desired outcomes to date.

Kīlauea Elementary


From school year 2021-22 to 2022-23, scores for language arts increased by 14 points to 62%, math increased by 16 points to 49%, and science increased by 35 points to 67%. 

The academic gains have gone well-above pre-pandemic proficiencies, putting the school above elementary complex area and statewide averages in language arts and science, and on-par for math. The school’s third grade literacy level was 97%, increasing 12 points from the year prior and surpassing statewide averages by 19 points. 

Principal Fig Mitchell, who was new to the position during the 2022-23 school year, attributes the school’s academic gains to the staff and community. “Establishing a culture of support for staff and students, and having stability among staff members was a big factor,” Principal Mitchell said. “We also tried to implement a culture of ‘we can do hard things’ at our school and the students pulled through.” 


The school utilized ESSER funds to implement a new rigorous math curriculum during the 2022-23 school year, which involved providing comprehensive professional development for teachers. Professional development for math continues to be a priority for Principal Mitchell this school year. Additionally, the school’s response intervention coach became LETRS trained and shared best practices and resources with other staff members. Kīlauea is now looking at a schoolwide implementation of the science of reading and will be focusing on further increasing the quality of reading instruction. The school started to implement more small group instruction and active participation in classes to ensure that students are engaged and learning cohesively. 

An improvement in attendance was also likely the overarching variable contributing to the positive results. For the 2021-22 school year, Kīlauea’s chronic absenteeism rates rose to 51% from the previous year’s 11%. During the 2022-23 school year, the school reinforced attendance policies and implemented parent conferences, cutting chronic absenteeism rates to 35%, a vast improvement to getting students back in the classroom.

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