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By Alice Keesing
Advertiser Education Writer
The state Department of Education is heralding a possible turnaround in school performance, with gains in student achievement on the 2000 Stanford Achievement Test.
The department released the school-by-school results of the test yesterday. The statewide results were announced in October and the "honor roll" of high-performing schools was released last month.
Hawaii students showed the best gains in years on the Stanford test, which compares them with their counterparts across the country. In 2000, Hawaii exceeded the national average in elementary reading and elementary and secondary math.
At Noelani Elementary, which is among the top-performing schools in the state, principal Clayton Fujie attributes their success to dedicated teachers and parents and diverse programs that meet the needs of all students. The school serves children from the university community as well as those in a transitional home for the homeless.
"The kids may not all be from academic backgrounds, so we try to find ways of reaching them," Fujie said.
The schools efforts were recognized with a state Blue Ribbon School award this year. Noelani is now a semifinalist in the national competition.
Along with reading and math, Noelani Elementary emphasizes other activities that give students "real-world" exposure, such as music, physical education, drama, dance and technology.
Noelani has a 98 percent parent participation rate, and Fujie said every staff member participates in the education of students. He recalls one time when the students were studying geography and the cafeteria manager brought in rice plants and, for each day, made a different rice dish characteristic of a specific part of the world.
Noelani also has the benefit of tutors from the neighboring University of Hawaii.
"All of this contributes to giving the kids confidence and Im sure, when you look at it, I think it contributes to test-taking," Fujie said.
A record number of schools made the departments Stanford "honor roll" this school year. The roll includes those schools with at least 77 percent of their students scoring average or above in both math and reading.
The department combines the average and high scores to compare with a national norm of 77 percent. Here is a summary of how Hawaii students performed on the 2000 Stanford Achievement Test:
Third grade: Reading, 83 percent scored average or above, up from 73 percent last year. Math, 82 percent scored average or above, up from 75 percent last year.
Fifth grade: Reading, 79 percent scored average or above, up from 73 percent last year. Math, 81 percent scored average or above, up from 78 percent last year.
Eighth grade: Reading, 73 percent scored average or above, down from 76 percent last year when Grade 7 students were tested; math, 80 percent scored average or above, up from 73 percent last year when Grade 7 students were tested.
Tenth grade: Reading, 73 percent scored average or above, up from 69 percent last year when Grade 9 students were tested; math, 80 percent scored average or above, up from 78 percent last year when Grade 9 students were tested.
This spring, students will take a new Hawaii-based test that is based on the new standards being introduced in Isle schools. The test will incorporate segments of the Stanford test so students can continue to be compared to their national counterparts.
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