27.8.13

Authentic Assessments and Immersion Schools

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The Hawaii Tribune Herald came out with this article last week, which shares island-wide school rankings under the new Strive HI performance standards. According to the Deputy Superintendent, Hawaii State DOE is

"valuing more than just test scores, we are taking a comprehensive look at the successes and challenges of schools...this wealth of data will allow educators, school leaders, parents and the community to have meaningful conversations about what is working and where they need to improve to prepare all students for college and careers." 
 The only problem? Stand outs in the bottom tier ("Priority Schools") include not one but two language immersion schools - Ka Umeke Kaeo and Nawahiokalaniopuu Iki. I can't speak for Ka Umeke Kaeo, but I can certainly testify on behalf of Nawahi since my child is a student there.

The DOE claims that they are looking at more than test scores, but almost all of their information (including student tracking) is coming from the Hawaii State Assessment (HSA) test.  Aside from that, they are looking at graduation rates, which don't apply to an elementary school, and SIG grants, which Nawahi doesn't receive.  So, in reality, these rankings are based solely on the results of standardized testing.

Despite the fact that the Native American Language Act (NALA) is supposed to protect indigenous peoples right to use their own language for education and Hawaii is unique in that Hawaiian is an official and legally recognized language of the state (along with English) - the Hawaii State DOE is still demanding that children who are educated in Hawaiian be tested and ranked using English assessments!  Its not only absurd, its illegal.

And how does this false and prejudicial information help us exactly?  How are we having "meaningful conversations" with immersion schools when this blatant disrespect for the validity and viability of their unique educational environment is published in a worldwide forum?  Is the DOE honestly taking a "comprehensive look" at these schools when they choose to ignore Nawahi's graduation rate (100% - far above state average) and college attendance rate (80% - also well above average)?  Not to mention the wealth of curriculum based measurement (CBM) data the school can provide, but the DOE chooses to ignore.

Historically, the parents of Nawahi have boycotted the HSA.  However, the process to opt out can be complicated and even one test score will become a reflection of the entire schools performance.  Even if the students, who are not explicitly taught English (as a foreign language) until 5th grade, were to take the assessment, the content would be inappropriate, as these students are taught to view the world, including the world of academics, from a uniquely Hawaiian perspective.

The consequences of this article stretch far beyond parental outrage.  False representations such as this can cause a community to lose faith in these schools, whereby the schools lose funding and enrollment.  Furthermore, to discount Hawaiian medium education as somehow failing its students, when in fact the exact opposite is true, is a disservice to Native Hawaiian families.  According to UHH Professor Pila Wilson, "the outcomes of such invalid and discriminatory assessments subject a school community, such as that of Nawahi, to punitive actions by the state and federal goverment...including a change in curriculum, dismissal of staff, school restructuring, closing of a school, and takeover of the school."

The DOE used to offer a Hawaiian language version of the test, but the translation was very poor quality with numerous errors, misspellings, etc. (the USDE took out a craigslist ad in Washington DC for a translator).  The schools would like to see a comparable assessment in Hawaiian language that tests similar academic skills but is based on Hawaiian curriculum, however neither the state nor the schools have the funding to create such a thing.  Clearly, a solution for authentic assessment needs to be found so Hawaiian-speaking educators, parents, school leaders and communities can benefit from the same meaningful conversations being offered to their English-speaking neighbors.  The Department of Education needs to stop marginalizing Hawaiian medium schools and begin finding fair and viable solutions that benefit everyone involved.  Erroneously besmirching a schools reputation in the daily newspaper is not a good way to start.

19.8.13

Project 333 and My Wardrobe Revelations


This new round of Project 333 isn't going quite as smoothly as before.  I've learned 3 things thus far:
  1. My camera phone takes pretty low quality photos for boasting such high megapixels.  Clearly, I need a flash and something above a 5 if I am going to replace my trusty little handheld for good.
  2. Post-pregnancy hormone imbalance did not claim the bulk of my hair (hooray!), which makes the  heavy bang grow out painfully mopish (boo!)
  3. I probably only like two thirds of the clothes I picked and some of the things I want to like best, things that were my staples last round (american apparel le sac dress) I am intending to wear then skipping over - every. single. day.  Logic would demand that I just Ebay the darn thing already, but...I don't know.  I'm in love with the idea of it. 


12.8.13

Keeping a Modern Household (aka Housekeeping for Dummies)

I want to begin this post by pointing out that I, like most women, wrestle with the concept of being a homemaker.  I assign more value to my work outside the home because I associate that work with a paycheck.  But I find more creativity and fulfillment within the walls of our home.  I think both can be done properly, but it's most important to have a good balance between the two (never forsaking one or the other).

Life for a modern homemaker has never been more polarized.  In some ways it is exponentially easier and in others it is excessively (sometimes unnecessarily) complicated. 

I can't image what it was like for my grandmother to be a homemaker.  I have unlimited access to a treasure trove of other women's ingenuity via the internet.  I don't have to put effort into friendships in order to glean helpful tips from experienced mothers.  If I want to know how to cook dry beans in my crock pot (can I freeze them?), I simply turn to Google and read what hundreds of other moms have chosen to share with the worldwide collective of homemakers.  My grandmother either had to find someone who had done it or figure it out through trial and error.

Pinterest is great for stealing ideas from people who are more creative.  I can find instructions for how to cook, fix, clean, build and make just about anything.  I can even find how to discipline my children, bestow values upon them, and record their memories in tidy little scrapbooks.  The high-quality professional pictures inspire at best and, at worst, breed an unhealthy level of competitive one-up-manship between online moms.  However, I am willing to risk it (understanding that most of these photos are like advertisements and are meant to attract/mislead/intimidate) because I don't want to fut around with my crockpot and ruin 10 batches of beans before getting it right!

One downside to this technology is that modern homemakers can feel overwhelmed by the amount of choices.  The virtual clutter begins to fill our heads and we are crippled by the paralysis of indecision.  We end up pinning 250 DIY projects for the house and end up making almost none of them.  This usually leads to a sense of guilt and/or shame, as if we aren't good enough because we can't do it all.  A healthy ratio is about 80:20.  80% of the time is spent doing/making something.  20% of the time is dedicated to thinking/planning.  I find that whenever this ratio gets out of whack (when I spend 5 hours looking at knitting patterns online but only 20 minutes working with actual yarn) I feel most distressed and negative toward keeping my house.

Being self-sufficient and maintaining a high functioning, clean and lovely home is a blessing and a virtue.  Although no one is going to assign any monetary value to my work, I still find it worthwhile and am proud to see what comes to fruition at the end of the day.  I rely heavily on Pinterest, but am open to hearing about any other sites that might make my life easier...   

5.8.13

Ikaika's First Day of Kindergarten


Today was Ikaika's first day of school.  Yep, that's right.  I haven't even fully recovered from the trauma of delivering the kid and I'm already sending him off to kindergarten.  To be cliche - it goes by so fast.


It was very clear that Ikaika has been out of school for awhile.  The language was slow-coming today, he seemed uncomfortable to the point of embarrassment at times and was invariably preferring to speak in English whenever any adult would allow him to do so.  But, he made it through the piko (morning gathering) and assembly with no major issue.  


Even appropriate standing-in-line behavior came back to him after awhile.


One thing that Nawahi (the main school in Hilo where we went today) does that I just love is after piko all the teachers and staff stand in a line and greet each of the children individually.  This is standard piko stuff and part of Hawaiian cultural practice, which I have seen before, many times, on a smaller scale at our own school in Waimea.  However, today there were so many people that it reminded me of "pump handle", a tradition at my college where the entire school, students, teachers and staff, greet each other at the beginning of the school year.
Seriously, can you think of a better way to start your year than getting a hug/kiss from every teacher?  This picture is Ikaika with the principal.    


We took a tour of their amazing campus, complete with a beautiful garden and...pig pen!  Enormous, noisy sows.  But, I guess there has to be something to cook in that high-tech imu (pit oven)


It was just a wonderful day and I'm so excited to see how this school year goes.  Here in Waimea, we have many, many options for where and how to educate our children.  Today really drives home for me that we have made the right choice for our family.


3.8.13

Project 333 - Round 2


The 33 winners!

My friend recently proposed that we both complete a round of Project 333.  I'm super glad she suggested it because I have a ton of new clothes!  Trips to the mainland always mean deals at Goodwill and sister clothes swaps, which equal an onslaught of new garments that might get lost in the shuffle.  Spending 3 months wearing some of these new pieces will help me decide if I actually love them...or if I just got caught up in the fun moments of our trip (sister swaps usually include beer!)

I will be posting my daily look on Instagram (daintydoughnuts) so my friend can critique each look - and probably scold me for whatever "mom pants" or "mom shoes" du jour.  ;)  Will black cords work in Hawaii?  Will they still be fun to wear after air-drying?  Only time will tell...let the Project begin!

clothes and shoes that didn't make the cut - packed up safe until November

2.8.13

To Do List #42: Take Boys to Bruce Lee's Grave - CHECK!


This has certainly been a summer for checking stuff off the ole To Do List!  
Being that my parents are moving (so we no longer have a reason to hang out in Seattle all summer), we made a special point of stopping at the Lakeview Cemetery to pay our respects to Bruce and Brandon Lee.  I love the inscription on Brandon's grave stone (makes me cry every time) - read it here!  
It seems our family can't get enough of the Lee family and I, for one, am continually surprised and inspired by each new piece of information - they are just beautiful, genuine people.  I would hope that it dulls the ache a little to know how profound and positive an influence these two men are for so many martial artists - my husband and children included.
Thanks Bruce.  Thanks Brandon.