Thursday, February 18, 2021

*The Board did not meet at a physical location. As part of the response to the threat of COVID-19, Governor David Ige issued a Seventeenth Supplementary Proclamation dated December 16, 2020, suspending Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter 92, Public Agency Meetings and Records, to the extent necessary to enable boards as defined in Section 92-2, to conduct meetings without any board members or members of the public physically present in the same location, among other things.

Margaret Cox, Chairperson
Kili Namauʻu, Vice Chairperson
Shanty Asher
Kaimana Barcarse
Lynn Fallin
Catherine Payne
Dwight Takeno
Kenneth Uemura
Hunter Harris, Student Representative


Phyllis Unebasami, Deputy Superintendent
Rodney Luke, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Strategy, Innovation, and Performance
Alison Kunishige, Executive Director
Kenyon Tam, Board Analyst
Regina Pascua, Executive Secretary
Lady Garrett, Secretary

  1. Call to Order

Committee Chairperson Margaret Cox called the Student Achievement Committee (“Committee”) Meeting to order at 9:32 a.m.

Approval of Meeting Minutes of February 6, 2020

Committee Chairperson Cox called for public testimony on this agenda item. No one provided oral testimony at this time.

Committee Chairperson Cox asked Committee members to review the minutes of the Committee’s February 6, 2020 meeting.

Committee Member Kaimana Barcarse moved to approve the Committee’s meeting minutes of February 6, 2020. Committee Member Kenneth Uemura seconded.

Committee Chairperson Cox asked if there were any objections to the motion. No Committee member raised objections, and the motion carried through unanimous consent from all members present (Committee Vice Chairperson Namau‘u, Committee Members Asher, Barcarse, Fallin, Payne, Takeno, and Uemura).

ACTION: Motion to approve the Student Achievement Committee Meeting minutes of February 6, 2020 (Barcarse/Uemura). The motion carried through unanimous consent from all members present.

Discussion Items

Committee Chairperson Cox called for public testimony on this agenda item.

Susan Pcola-Davis, member of the public, testified that the materials prepared by the Department of Education (“Department”) provided a clear understanding on how student hours are calculated, and she stated that there is no other option other than to issue a waiver due to everything that has transpired this year.

Cheri Nakamura, HE‘E Coalition, testified that parents have shared examples that some schools are offering very little instruction time or different amounts of time for online learning on any given day. She stated that the HE‘E Coalition would like to know if the Department is keeping track of student hours and if the law is being complied with across schools.

Committee Chairperson Cox called on Phyllis Unebasami, Deputy Superintendent, to present the Department’s requirements and guidance regarding calculating student hours for the 2020-2021 school year.

Unebasami stated that since March 2020, schools have made significant changes to respond to the impacts of COVID-19, including following the Department’s requirements and guidance for schools regarding the calculation of student hours during the school year given the school models in place across the state. She explained that section 302A-251, Hawaii Revised Statutes, guides the attendance expectations. She explained that in the current 2020-2021 school year, all multi-track schools follow the single-track calendar that is inclusive of a full date and alignment with general learner outcomes.

Unebasami noted that the opening of the 2020-2021 school year began with the alteration of the calendar to provide nine days of training and professional development to prepare professionals for distance learning and communicate with staff. She explained that the Department requested a general waiver from the statutory requirements for the nine days, and the Department continued to have conversations with unions to recoup instructional hours. She noted that as the schools go into the third quarter of the school year and given the current financial situation, the Department would submit a waiver request to the Board for consideration.

Unebasami noted that Department leaders and employees have demonstrated commitment over the past 12 months, which requires new ways of thinking and changes to infrastructure and systems in order to continue to educate students. She stated that school attendance procedures support the various of school models and learning opportunities since school procedures include face-to-face, distance learning, and blended learning. She stated that while it is challenging to track attendance in distance learning and blended learning environments, it is critical for schools to have a system to measure and track their students’ attendance for state reporting requirements and to ensure safety and well-being. She explained that schools use minimum logged in time requirements or a combination of measures, such as face-to-face and logged in time with assignment or task completion within a specified time, to track attendance. Unebasami noted that per the Board’s resolution, the Department was to provide a virtual-only option for students and families that are reluctant to have their child attend school due to health reasons. Unebasami stated that the Department created guidance for teachers and administrators to calculate instructional hours based on the time students spend in a virtual environment, which is an example of using logged in hours to determine attendance. She explained that in an asynchronous environment, the Department established a minimum amount of time in which students must log into courses per day or week so that time logged in would be the equivalent to in-person learning, which provides a seat time measure used to calculate attendance. She stated that for synchronous learning, the teacher has the ability to record attendance.

Unebasami explained that the Department uses a variety of instructional models that include both asynchronous and synchronous models, such as students logging in for online learning, completing tasks that may be given a time value to calculate attendance, or using task completion as a daily three-point check-in. She stated that due to the impact of the pandemic the Department provided guidance to schools to use infinite campus attendance or gradebook modules to gather attendance data.

Unebasami stated that schools are only using the infinite campus attendance module since it allows schools to not only report attendance but to specify the school model for each student as reflected in the Board metrics data. She stated that there has been a shift in schools to bring students back onto campus with new Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) guidance.

Unebasami noted that prior to the reopening of the school year each Complex Areas Superintendent (“CAS”) approved school models and bell schedules with secondary schools keeping their planned bell schedules to maintain consistency even while changing the method of learning. She explained that CASs checked with schools at the end of the first semester on the school models, instructional hours and plans for the future to increase students on campus. She noted that CASs are working with schools that are struggling to meet instructional hours to consider school model changes to increase in-person learning as appropriate. Unebasami stated that at the start of the second semester she conducted school visits and discussed topics of enrollment, attendance, strategies for the particular campus, school model of learning and plans for the future while thinking of other school services such as grab-n-go meal program and how to create social opportunities for students to feel valued and connected. She stated that approximately eight percent of students or 11,661 are in full in-person learning, sixty-seven percent are in some type of blended learning, and twenty-six percent of students are in online only learning models based on parent choice.

Unebasami explained that schools will not meet the 180 day and 1,080 hour requirement and the Department will seek Board approval on its request for a waiver for student instructional hours subject to HRS 302A-251.

Committee Chairperson Cox stated that the fourth quarter begins March 15, 2021, and asked whether the Department will know the number of seniors who are in danger of not being able to graduate. She asked what is the Department’s plan for those students who are not getting the hours needed for graduation and 8th graders who need to move to high school.

Unebasami stated that all grades are critical with seniors being prioritized at schools. She explained that for those seniors who are vulnerable or known to be failing two or more credits these students are being invited back onto campus to fulfill credits. She also explained that school counselors are tracking the students to keep them on track and are bringing these students on campus for extra support.

Committee Chairperson Cox stated that in the Department’s longitudinal database showed that 96 to 99 percent of seniors at two Kauai high schools will not be graduating and requested that the Department verify the reports for accuracy because she does not want schools scrambling due to inaccurate percentages. Unebasami stated that when metrics are reported during the school year, they provide information that the school needs to provide assistance to intervene since it is known that students around this time can go off track so the professionals need to help steer the students back on track.

Committee Chairperson Cox stated that inaccurate data being reported caused stress for both high schools involved. She also asked what will happen with instruction since testing is being required and students will be back on campus for in-person learning.

Rodney Luke, Assistant Superintendent of the Office of Strategy, Innovation, and Performance (“OSIP”) explained the Department is continuing to monitor guidance from the United States Department of Education (“USDOE”) in regards to state assessments and at this point no waivers have been offered. He stated that assessments have been shortened and the Department is looking at the possibility of remote assessments.

Committee Member Kaimana Barcarse asked if the Department intends to request Board action on waiver days and the status of ongoing labor negotiations. Unebasami stated that it is the Department’s intention to remind the Board of the request for the waiver which will need to be an action item on a future agenda.

Board Student Representative Hunter Harris expressed concern that keeping students on track can be a challenge when working remotely. He encouraged administrators to reach out to students to work together to provide a safe place for everyone.

Committee Member Lynn Fallin expressed concern with issuing a waiver because the guidelines issued by the Department are not required and there is a lot of variability amongst individual schools. She stated decisions are individual to each school and complexes are dealing with high chronic absenteeism around 40 percent and would like a systematic way to monitor at the school level what actions will be taken at the complex area. She stated she has not seen any policies or procedures that are consistently applied for schools and noted that a complex waiver could be offered based on certain requirements especially after receiving testimony from teachers that state, “if students are in school we can help them” to grapple with attendance issues. Unebasami replied the Nanakuli-Waianae complex area school leaders are aware of the data and are going above and beyond to reach out to students by conducting home visits and calling parents, offering tutoring services, and inviting the students to school.

Committee Member Shanty Asher asked whether the Department knows how many students are not going to make it and asked what the plans are to help these students while not jeopardizing those that are going to graduate. She stated she is aware that students are applying for college and requesting test scores but one student shared an unfavorable experience as far as how long it took to receive a response to their request for assistance. She also asked about the requirements in place for school counselors to respond to students because schools should try to lessen the fear, worry and burden on students.

Committee Member Asher also asked how the Department is providing support for students applying for college if they are not on campus. She also asked about the foreseeable impacts of the learning gap if the Board grants the waiver.

Committee Chairperson Cox stated those questions from Committee Member Asher can be addressed as a written Board request to the Department.

Board Student Representative Harris stated that listing which classes are asynchronous and which classes are non-asynchronous for students is important to help students remember when to login and may help to address chronic absenteeism issues. Unebasami noted that many older students have had to take on responsibilities in the home and administrators are trying to be empathetic to figure out ways to respond to each student to keep them on track academically.

Committee Chairperson Cox asked if the Department is looking at doing anything differently for the 4th quarter with the current learning models or consideration for more time for students to have face to face learning. Unebasami replied that there will not be change in hours but the methods for delivering instruction will change with CDC guidance and vaccinations to reduce community spread to further open schools.

Committee Member Namauʻu asked if the Department is offering additional lessons or tests to students who may be completing tasks quicker than anticipated. Unebasami replied that the Department is aware of these situations and has made efforts for the additional learning and dealing with the variation and impacts with deficiencies for students and focus on standards necessary to navigate the school year.

Committee Member Namauʻu stated that she would like students to be challenged and asked if these students can be offered additional learning opportunities. She stated she is not clear if these types of things are monitored for students who are going quickly through programs. Unebasami replied that the virtual only option for students will provide information on how quickly students complete exercises in the guided online learning programs.

Board Student Representative Harris stated that with asynchronous learning, it is helpful that teachers are available for students to keep the students remain accountable for school work.

IV. Late Public Testimony on Board Agenda Items

Committee Chairperson Cox called for public testimony from any individuals who did not have an opportunity to testify on earlier agenda items. No one provided oral testimony at this time.

Committee Members received written testimony before the meeting. The following is a listing of the people who submitted written testimony before the meeting.

NameOrganizationAgenda Item
Susan Pcola-DavisPublicIII. A. Presentation on Department of Education requirements and guidance regarding calculating student hours for the 2020-2021 School Year in accordance with Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 302A-251
David MiyashiroHawaiiKidsCANIII. A. Presentation on Department of Education requirements and guidance regarding calculating student hours for the 2020-2021 School Year in accordance with Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 302A-251
Cheri NakamuraHE‘E CoalitionIII. A. Presentation on Department of Education requirements and guidance regarding calculating student hours for the 2020-2021 School Year in accordance with Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 302A-251
V. Adjournment

Committee Chairperson Cox adjourned the meeting at 10:41 a.m.