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Education Evaluation in Hawaii

The Challenge

In 2010, the state of Hawaii became a surprise recipient of $75 million in federal Race to the Top funding for designing and rolling out a new educator evaluation system. By 2011, they were so far behind that the US Department of Education considered rescinding the funding and diverting it to another state. In December of that year, Hawaii was placed on a list of “High Risk” states, placing both the grant and the program in serious jeopardy.

The Solution

Hawaii engaged UPD in late 2011 to get the program back on track, implement meaningful improvement, and in the process ensure no further funding issues. Given the urgency of the situation, UPD was tasked with acting quickly while at the same time committing to see the process through via change management and program implementation.

We started by helping the state identify the program’s broad objectives, which included implementing a system that would not only rank and sort teachers and principals but would also create “feedback loops” to help educators improve their practice. From there we identified and documented gaps in the state’s capabilities which could hinder successful rollout. Armed with this knowledge of goals and potential challenges, we crafted a detailed implementation plan.

  • Teacher training
  • Logistics
  • Measurement methodology
  • Coordination of multiple decision makers across multiple divisions

In the process of our work, we realized that the most difficult aspect of the project—the area in which Hawaii needed the most help—was change management.

  • Communication and engagement to generate buy-in
  • Transforming hierarchical relationships
  • Stakeholder education

The Outcome

By the end of UPD’s second year of work, the state had expanded the number of schools involved in the pilot program and the teachers’ union had approved a new Collective Bargaining Agreement incorporating the evaluation of teachers under the new model, reflecting the union’s confidence in our process. Additionally, the US Department of Education removed Hawaii from high-risk status as a direct result of the progress they made during our engagement.