Education: A new OHA study looks at the needs of Native Hawaiian students in the public school system. - Photo: Thinkstock

new report by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ (OHA) Research Department shares highlights on the Native Hawaiian student population in Hawaiʻi’s public school system. A Native Hawaiian Focus on the Hawai‘i Public School System provides critical data that clarifies Native Hawaiian student needs; leading to better targeting of services and programs. Additionally, this report will inform policymakers, stakeholders, and funders of the importance of continuing support of the education of Native Hawaiian students. Education remains a significant factor in increasing opportunities for a higher standard of living and quality of life. Consequently, hoʻonaʻauao (education) is one of the key priorities of OHA’s 2010-2018 strategic plan. One of the two strategic goals to exceed educational standards is to increase the percent of Native Hawaiians who meet or exceed educational standards in math and reading.

To help achieve these results, OHA awarded $7.5 million in grants since 2010 to the Nā Lei Naʻauao Charter School Alliance to benefit 17 Hawaiian-focused charter schools, which serve more than 4,200 students, 74.4 percent of whom are Native Hawaiian. OHA will also participate in the 2017 Native Hawaiian Education Summit on September 7-9 with other organizations and stakeholders committed to improving outcomes for Native Hawaiian students.

In School Year 2014-2015, Native Hawaiian students represented the largest ethnic group at 26 percent. However, due to federal regulation standards, the students’ data are merged into a larger racial group and are often not independently reported on, making it difficult to ascertain Native Hawaiian trends and disparities. OHA’s newest report disaggregates the Native Hawaiian student population and explores Native Hawaiian data in areas such as socio-economic and special education status; math and reading state assessment proficiency results; and retention and graduation rates.

Read the full report at


Infographic: Proficiency gaps for Native Hawaiians in the public school system
Illustration: Kaleena Kwe