By Star Advertiser

The news is at least reassuring. Focused attention on Hawaii’s pandemic-related learning loss has led to a measurable academic improvement for the state’s public school students.

But the state Department of Education acknowledges that the annual Strive HI report on academic proficiency also shows that students are still lagging behind where they were before Covid-19 concerns led to statewide school closures and months of remote learning.

And that means there can be no let-up in continued efforts to reach out to students at risk.

The most concerning aspect in the 2021-22 report released last week was the spike in chronic absences. An alarming 37% of students missed 15 or more days of school, up from 19% the previous year. This was largely the result of Covid-19 quarantine and isolation requirements, according to the report (

Despite that reason, there surely are other students who have drifted away from education, or are in danger of doing so. The department has protocols and must use them vigorously to ensure this group does not fall through the cracks.

David Sun-Miyashiro, executive director of HawaiiKidsCAN, a branch of the national nonprofit advocacy network, said that “from a big-picture perspective, my reaction was a pleasant surprise … the massive plunges didn’t come to pass.”

A narrower focus on this state suggested to Sun-Miyashiro that there were steps taken that had a positive effect. For example, summer school was made available free to all students, a policy he rightly proposes should be extended. He also applauded the efforts by some schools to make home visits during the pandemic as being productive efforts at outreach.


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