March, 2021

By In education, Hawaii

To Test Or Not To Test

In a few weeks, schools will start administering the Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBA) to students in third through eighth grades, as well as high school juniors. For the uninitiated, these are the standardized tests designed to measure student competency of Common Core standards.

This year, since students are returning on a staggered, blended schedule, students will take the SBAs for two hours per day over the course of two weeks.

Teachers, too, have been dedicating a number of hours to the test, with meetings about protocol and procedure as well as a surprisingly thorough training module to become certified to run an official test.

This is not a complaint – all of it was genuinely useful and necessary – so much as an accurate accounting of how much total time these tests require.

The purpose of standardized tests is to see what students know and what they don’t know under a given set of standards, then to track that progress over time. But after a pandemic year, this data serves another purpose: delineating the learning gap that has almost certainly occurred during distance learning…

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By In Hawaii

The Small Wonders Of Knowing Your Home

Ulu A‘e Learning Center Executive Director Miki‘ala Lidstone made an interesting comparison between the windward and leeward sides of Oahu in an interview with Civil Beat last week.

“We don’t have a lot of (Hawaiian) names for our rains because it doesn’t rain that much (in Kapolei),” she said, adding that it’s not like that in Kailua. “They have a lot of names for rains — we don’t. But you know what we do have? We have a lot of hills.”

This echoed around my head as I was in Kailua helping my parents salvage soaked belongings in their house after a torrential intruder whose name I do not know barged in and alerted us to a leak somewhere in the roof. The hills of Kapolei are no doubt more mannered acquaintances.

The days of heavy downpour reminded me just how inextricable rain is from life on this side of the island, and how essential it is to its — and our — character. Rain comes in a menagerie of personalities. It can be a gentle patter that helps you fall into a deeper sleep, or a deluge that turns your waking life into a nightmare. Which made Lidstone’s sentiment all the more compelling…

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