A team of Hawaiʻi educators and KS support staff published an article released May 1 in Education Week’s “Next Gen Learning in Action” blog, and authors were invited to contribute the article as part of a three-part Education Week series that showcases culturally relevant assessments for learning.
The team included: Denise Espania, executive director of Mālama Honua Hawaiian-focused Charter School; Meahilahila Kelling, executive director of Ke Kula ʻo Samuel M. Kamakau Hawaiian-focused Charter School; and Chelsea N. K. Keehne, network school liaison, and Liezl Houglum, principal research associate, for Kamehameha Schools’ Kealaiwikuamoʻo team.
The article explains how Hawaiian-focused Charter Schools (HFCS) are grounded in Hawaiian values, aligned with Nā Hopena Aʻo, and provide a counternarrative to the current assessment dialogue. The findings provide valuable evidence that successful learning and innovation are determined by schools and communities rather than measures that marginalize cultural knowledge, communicate decontextualized outcomes, and are void of the wisdom and values of our ancestors.
The preceding article in the three-part series, published in April, features the Office of Hawaiian Education’s Nā Hopena Aʻo. Later this month in the final article, partnering research organization Learning Policy Institute (LPI) will connect the promising culturally relevant assessment work occurring in Hawaiʻi to other similar local efforts across U.S. schools and districts.
LPI has forged connections between multiple HFCS and national policy, research, and practice around authentic approaches to assessment. Through LPI, the HFCS Culturally Relevant Assessment Steering Committee presented at the California Performance Assessment Collaborative last September to showcase group work centered around equitable performance assessment systems. Educators and educational leaders across KS, Hawaiʻi Department of Education, and the University of Hawaiʻi system were also invited to attend LPI’s Reimagining College Access convening in Washington, D.C. earlier this year to support the innovative use of K-12 performance assessments in higher education admissions, placement, and advising decisions. Locally, the inaugural Hawaiʻi Performance Assessment Collaborative meeting was coordinated by the Native Hawaiian Education Council in June.
“Members of the California Performance Assessment Collaborative have enjoyed partnering with the Hawaiian-focused Charter School Network and Kamehameha Schools to learn about what culturally responsive assessment practices look like in the Native Hawaiian context,” Anna Maier, research analyst and policy advisor with the Learning Policy Institute, said. “The members of our professional learning community have been inspired by the thoughtful and dynamic approach our colleagues in Hawaiʻi are using to assess students, empowering them to connect classroom education to real-life experience.”