Erickson highlighted that the complex area is comprised of 22 schools, including 16 elementary schools, three middle/intermediate schools, and three high schools. He noted that the complex area’s total population consists of 14,793 students. Students in general education settings comprise 85% of the complex area’s total population, students receiving special education services comprise 10% of the complex area’s total population, students receiving EL services comprise 4% of the complex area’s total population, and students receiving both special education and EL services comprise 1% of the complex area’s total population.
Jose reviewed the complex area’s special education demographics, including its five most prevalent eligibility categories. He detailed that the five most prevalent eligibility categories include specific learning disabilities, developmental delays, other health impairments, autism, speech or language impairments, and the remaining 10 eligibility categories. Jose noted that 37.61% of students have a specific learning disability, 18.62% of students have a developmental delay, 16.57% of students have another health impairment, 10.94% of students have autism, 6.47% of students have a speech or language impairment, and 9.79% of students fall under the remaining 10 eligibility categories.
Jose stated that 36.02% of students within the complex area send 80% or more of the school day in the least restrictive environment. The complex area’s goal is to increase this percentage. He noted that 16.49% of pre-school age students receiving special education services are in a general education classroom for at least part of the school day.
Erickson stated that the top home languages of EL students in the complex area include Chuukese, Ilocano, Marshallese, and Tagalog. He highlighted that students in the complex area speak over 34 different languages.
Erickson reviewed English language arts (“ELA”) and math standards for the complex area. He noted that the complex area measures student achievement via proficiency on the Smarter Balanced Assessment. Erickson stated that an achievement gap still exists for ELA, although proficiency is improving. He noted that the complex area needs to work on reducing its achievement gap. Erickson stated that math proficiency is improving overall. He detailed that math proficiency among EL students significantly improved from School Year (“SY”) 2015-2016 to SY 2016-2017. However, math proficiency among students receiving special education services has not significantly improved. Erickson highlighted that the complex area is addressing its challenges in order to decrease its achievement gap.
Erickson detailed that 15.16% of students receiving special education services transferred to regular education during SY 2016-2017, 15.31% graduated with a high school diploma, and less than 10 students received a certificate or reached a maximum age. He noted that 4.4% of EL students exited the EL program during SY 2016-2017 and 7.3% of EL students exited the EL program during SY 2017-2018.
Erickson reviewed the complex area’s teacher demographics for SY 2016-2017. He detailed that out of 890 general education teachers, 97.8% are licensed and 6.5% are first-year teachers. Out of 165 special education teachers, 89.1% are licensed and 11.5% are first-year teachers. Erickson highlighted Aiea High School teacher Ken Kang, and detailed that he was the recipient of the 2017 Milken Educator Award.
Erickson reviewed equity and excellence in school design in the complex area’s high schools. He detailed academy structure and noted that high schools are reviewing various school designs and asking questions regarding the passions of all students, how to support teachers, how to create opportunities, and how to address the needs of all students. He noted that high schools are offering different learning experiences, including project-based learning and career technical education (“CTE”) pathways. High schools are offering Advanced Placement (“AP”) courses, transition centers, early college credits, and internships for students. Erickson emphasized the importance of supportive transition programs in schools due to the high concentration of military and transient students.
Jose reviewed evidence-based practices that schools are utilizing in special education classrooms. He highlighted that schools use evidence-based practices for all students, including students receiving special education services. He detailed that schools use Universal Design for Learning, which gives all individuals an opportunity to learn, AVID, thinking maps, and specially designed instruction. Jose highlighted that the complex area encouraged schools to focus on high-quality specially designed instruction this school year. He noted that compliance is a big part of the complex area’s practices and it is aiming to have all of its schools bridging practices and meeting goals and objectives. Jose stated that the next step is to ensure that teachers are trained in relation to goals and objectives for students. Jose stated that all complex area schools provide an inclusion setting where students with disabilities are educated in a general education classroom with their typically developing peers. He noted that the complex area understands that it must increase its least restrictive environment and inclusion percentages. He highlighted that schools offer a full continuum of services and utilize various models, such as co-teaching, educational supports, and pull-out services. He highlighted that schools provide inclusion in pre-school settings and the complex area is hoping to expand its Head Start classes to other schools. Jose highlighted that the complex area conducted student-led Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) training for teachers and partnered with the University of Hawaii to conduct trainings on curriculum and ensure that schools are using research-based practices in designing curriculum. Jose detailed that the complex area is looking forward to additional trainings to ensure that students are included in the IEP process and their voices are being heard.
Washburn reviewed evidence-based practices for students receiving EL services. She highlighted that the complex area believes that every student brings an asset to the classroom. She noted that students are learning academic languages while developing English and have diverse needs and strengths. Students receiving EL services are working toward mastery of grade level content standards and need instructional support and direct language instruction. She highlighted that the complex area offers different trainings to teachers because teachers need to be effective in the classroom and be equipped with strategies to address diverse needs. Washburn highlighted that the complex area recently offered professional development focusing on culturally responsive sheltered instruction. Washburn also detailed thinking maps and Project GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition Design). She noted that the greatest effect on student learning occurs when teachers become learners and students become teachers. She stated that the complex area is focusing on seven strategies designed to help all students, including EL students. These strategies are designed to help teachers collaboratively work with students to meet needs and close gaps.
Jose stated that the complex area is engaging in more formal forums to build stakeholder engagement and relationships. The complex area holds monthly Children’s Community Council meetings and a Footsteps to Transition Fair. He highlighted that the complex area engages in discussions with families and shares updates at its monthly meetings. The Footsteps to Transition Fair provides an opportunity for high school students receiving special education services to meet agencies to discuss support for after high school. Jose highlighted that the complex area also holds a Central District Preschool Play Day. During this event, families participate in enrichment activities. The complex area invites pre-school students in general education and special education settings in order to provide students with an inclusive experience. He highlighted that the complex area is reviewing additional forums to engage parents.
Washburn reviewed parent and community engagement for families of students receiving EL services. She detailed family engagement activities focused around language and shared that families created a family canoe with sails to represent their family name and goals during a parent night at Aiea Elementary School. Washburn highlighted that this activity taught students and parents to have pride in their cultures and to work on their goals. Washburn stated that the complex area wants to support all multilingual youth and promotes school-wide awareness of the unique needs and experiences of linguistically and culturally diverse families.
Committee Member De Lima stated that the complex area’s inclusion percentages are low and asked how the complex area plans to increase its inclusion rates. Erickson emphasized the importance of support in terms of recruitment and retention strategies. He stated that the complex area provides full-time release mentors from general education and special education classrooms to support every teacher. He noted that each first and second year teacher has a mentor from the district-level who provides them with support. Erickson emphasized the importance of connection and highlighted the importance of the complex area and schools providing new teachers with mentors. He stated that teachers who have been in the profession for a number of years also need support and updated trainings.
Committee Member De Lima asked what kinds of support the complex area and schools provide to unlicensed teachers in order for them to be successful with students. Erickson reiterated that the complex area provides district-level mentors. At the school-level, teachers receive help writing IEPs, goals, and objectives. He highlighted that some schools have been successful with full inclusion and other schools are expanding inclusion efforts. He stated that the complex area’s goal in terms of inclusion is to create inclusion classrooms where individuals cannot tell who is a special education teacher and who is a general education teacher.
Jose stated that one of the challenges for schools is in regards to long-term substitutes teaching in special education classrooms. He emphasized the importance of school and district workers working with these teachers. Jose stated that schools are increasing the number of inclusion classrooms and highlighted that the complex area is encouraging teachers to begin with the individual needs of the child and then design placements and supports based off of these individual needs, such as inclusion. Committee Member De Lima stated that he is okay with this approach as long as the focus is not to justify excluding students from inclusion settings, especially at the lower grades. Committee Member De Lima emphasized that inclusion is critical to long-term socialization and development.
Committee Member De Lima expressed concern over the complex area’s absenteeism rates. He stated that he is unsure of the specifics, but assumes that elementary attendance rates for the complex area are good while high school attendance rates are poor. Erickson stated that absenteeism is one of the complex area’s main focus areas for the school year because students are unable to learn if they are not in school. Erickson highlighted that the complex area is using one of its schools as a model to address chronic absenteeism. He further highlighted that the complex area is building partnerships with school counselors and parents and focusing on outreach. He noted that parents are able to see the value of education if they feel connected to the school, which is why the complex area is being proactive in its approaches to absenteeism. He noted that students want to come to school if they feel connected as well. He stated that the complex area wants to work with students who are missing school due to challenges they face in life. Committee Member De Lima stated that he appreciated the complex area’s thoughtful approach. He noted that absenteeism could turn into an epidemic if the complex area does not continue to focus on it.
Committee Chairperson Cox asked for more detail regarding the complex area’s strategy of co-teaching, specifically how the complex area provides time for teachers to meet. She noted that co-teaching does not work if teachers do not plan together. Jose stated that the complex area is currently struggling with this and noted that the Superintendent’s special education taskforce found that other complex areas and schools struggle with this as well. Jose explained that different schools use different co-teaching methods.
Committee Chairperson Cox asked if the complex area specifically allots funding to ensure that teachers who co-teach have planning time. Jose stated that the complex area allows schools to determine how to use resources for protected time in their academic plans. He noted that the complex area needs to continue to engage in discussions regarding planning time with schools. Committee Chairperson Cox stated that she is not arguing that schools need to make their own decisions. She stated that she is trying to determine if the complex area as a whole is promoting the message that planning time for co-teaching is important and ensuring that co-teachers have time to plan. She commented that co-teaching works well in elementary schools due to self-contained classrooms and asked what is happening in middle schools and high schools in terms of inclusion. Jose stated that middle schools provide teachers with preparation time at the end of the school day, but received feedback that that is not enough time. Committee Chairperson Cox agreed that this is not enough time because teachers also need time for their regular work. She stated that this is why she asked if the complex area is making this issue a priority and allotting funding.
Committee Chairperson Cox asked whether EL students are in inclusive classrooms. Washburn stated that schools are changing their formats for service delivery and the complex area is encouraging schools to place EL students in inclusion classrooms. She stated that it is difficult for schools to justify employing a full-time teacher to provide direct instruction because many schools have a low number of EL students. Washburn highlighted that the complex area is reviewing a position for a certified teacher to help with coordinating strategies. She noted that the complex area sometimes sends part-time temporary teachers to classrooms, which is not an ideal situation. Washburn stated that the complex area has a come a long way in terms of its service delivery for EL students, specifically around the qualifications and effectiveness of teachers. She highlighted Aiea High School’s academy structure of two houses, and detailed that every student who is receiving special education services that enters ninth grade is in an inclusion classroom. She stated the school intentionally designated time for teachers to prepare, and noted that Aiea High School wants to expand this structure to its upper grades the following year. She stated that it is hard work and costs money.
Committee Chairperson Cox emphasized the importance of schools spending special education funds on students receiving special education services. She stated that she hopes that the complex area expands this structure to other middle schools and high schools. Committee Chairperson Cox noted that students make it clear when they are not ready for an inclusion setting, but emphasized the importance of schools providing students with inclusion opportunities.
Committee Chairperson Cox asked if only one school employs AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) strategies. Erickson stated that Radford High School uses AVID, and highlighted that the Radford Complex received grants to provide AVID at all of its schools. He stated that the complex area is reviewing expanding AVID to other schools and is reviewing grants to be able to do so.
Committee Member Kili Namau’u commented on the complex area’s family engagement strategies and asked if other schools hold events similar to Aiea Elementary School’s family event. Washburn explained that all of the complex area’s schools hold family nights. She stated that parent engagement is a requirement for schools that receive Title III funds. Washburn stated that all of the complex area’s schools are working to bring parents together for a variety of reasons. She noted that the presentation focused on Aiea Elementary School because 32% of its students are in the EL program, and a large percentage of its students are Chuukese. Washburn explained that family takes priority over school in some instances within the Chuukese culture. As a result, students do not always attend school. She stated that Aiea Elementary School is focused on engaging families and making them feel as though they are part of the community in order to decrease absenteeism rates. She emphasized the importance of schools crafting conversations and messaging to parents in a way that builds community.
Committee Member Namau’u asked if the complex area works with individuals who are part of the Chuukese community to reach out to parents and ensure a more successful process. Washburn stated that the complex area employs two individuals who are part of the Chuukese community. She highlighted that these individuals visit schools and parent nights, work with guidance counselors, and perform home visits. Washburn highlighted other individuals in the complex area who speak other languages and thus are able to assist with transition and translation services. She stated that the complex area hires based on need and has had to eliminate certain positions in order to hire individuals for positions where the complex area has high needs.
Erickson highlighted college nights at schools and further highlighted that schools have working partnerships with the military. Schools hold science, technology, engineering, and math nights, share career information with students, and hold performing arts events. He stated that events are varied amongst schools because each school has its own program based on the quality of its teachers and the interests of students in particular programs. He noted that these various activities help parents to feel more connected.
Jose stated that schools could benefit from a special education parent night. He stated that the complex area has not yet established a forum for parents who are new to special education programs, but would be reviewing this.
Committee Chairperson Cox asked if all high schools have CTE programs. Erickson confirmed that all high schools have CTE programs and opportunities for students.
Committee Chairperson Cox asked about early college credits and asked if a lot of students take early college courses or if many students do not take these courses due to transitions. Erickson stated that schools provide transient students with AP courses so that students have AP credits on their transcripts once they leave. He stated that the complex area would like to expand early college courses and AP courses.
Committee Chairperson Cox commented on the complex area’s high transition percentages and asked if transitions affect mostly students who receive special education services, EL students, or both. Erickson explained that the fact that the complex area has a high transient population creates many challenges. He stated that the complex area wants to service students with needs so that they can be successful. Erickson explained that IEPs can be difficult when students transfer in from other states. He stated the complex area tries to establish relationships with parents and schools students transition from in order to prevent gaps. He emphasized the importance of schools engaging parents and working with other schools to receive updated information on transferring students.
Committee Member De Lima stated it is important for schools to maintain a supportive attitude in order to develop trust with families. He noted that cultural groups may depend on their community for reinforcement and emphasized the importance of changing attitudes. Committee Member De Lima stated that it is beneficial for the complex area to have individuals who work with these communities, but noted that it will take more than one or two staff members. Committee Member De Lima detailed schools who successively increased attendance and community engagement and encouraged the complex area to continue focusing on its strategies and positive actions. Washburn expressed appreciation for employees who act as a resource and are able to work with the complex area’s prevalent communities.
Committee Chairperson Cox adjourned the meeting at 4:18 p.m.