The Legacy of a princess

Kamehameha Schools was founded by the will of Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the great-granddaughter of Kamehameha the Great.

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HomeI MUA Newsroom Columns Academic progress is important, but it’s not the only thing we care about
Academic progress is important, but it’s not the only thing we care about
In addition to tracking five Educational Pathway Milestones, Kamehameha Schools is developing ways to measure Hawaiian leadership and cultural engagement in learners, as part of its Vision 2040.

Just as important as having a compelling vision is having the data to track our progress along the journey. Having data is more than just accountability; it is a vital part of being a learning organization.

As such, Kamehameha Schools will track key pieces of data over the next 25 years to reach its Vision 2040, which sees a thriving Lāhui characterized by significantly higher rates of success in postsecondary education, career and leadership.

Key data that will be tracked are collectively known as the “Educational Pathway Milestones.” Being an education-focused institution, it is no surprise that the first five milestones are focused on academics:

  1. Ready for kindergarten
  2. Reading at grade level or higher in Grade 3
  3. Academically prepared in Grade 8
  4. Graduated from high school on time and prepared for the next step
  5. Completed postsecondary education/training

Tracking academic progress is essential and will play a huge role in how we serve learners throughout their educational journey. However, as a Native Hawaiian organization that serves Native Hawaiian keiki and their families, our kuleana extends beyond individual academic milestones.

This is where the sixth Educational Pathway Milestone – “Local and global servant leadership and cultural engagement” – comes into play. Milestone 6 has also been widely referred to as “Outcome 6” as this concept represents ongoing, collective work toward a thriving Lāhui and is not something that is sequential to the other milestones.

Beyond being academically successful, we care about our keiki being good people, culturally engaged, and contributing members of the Lāhui. An ecological model helps us to achieve this goal by emphasizing relationships among learners, families, learning environments, and communities – each plays a critical role in shaping our keiki.  

This work also requires KS to look inward at how we model this through our organizational culture.

As Waiʻanae Coast Regional Director Kalei Kailihiwa said in a recent presentation, “The number of Native Hawaiians graduating from high school can double, or even triple, but if they have forgotten who they are and where they come from, then we have failed.”

It is not easy to measure concepts such as Hawaiian leadership, cultural engagement, and uplifting the lāhui. Preliminary thoughts include looking at Hawaiian cultural connections, community service, and informal and formal leadership roles.

However, we don’t have all the technicalities figured out right now. Nor do we know exactly which data collection tools to use and with whom. But we do have previous work by Hawaiian and other indigenous groups to build upon. Most importantly, we believe that concepts like leadership and cultural engagement are worth measuring, and a cross-functional KS work group is dedicated to tackling this challenge.

KS Strategy Consultant Brandon Ledward said, “It’s crucial that we continue to invest time and resources where they matter most. You simply can’t find meaningful assessments like these off the shelf. They have to be imagined, designed, and embraced by Native Hawaiians as part of a larger process of educational self-determination.”

There is a need for us to come together – KS as an organization and Hawaiians as a people – to identify and develop appropriate instruments and methods to tell the story of our thriving Lāhui. Part of this story involves academics and part of it involves much more.

Stay tuned for future articles on the development of this work.

In our September column, we will take a closer look at the academic-focused Educational Pathway Milestones.

Have a topic you want to see in a future column? Send me a note at wekekahi@ksbe.edu.