Hawaii program produces high bilingual graduation rate

November 18, 2019 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii public school students who study and master English as a second language before high school were more likely to graduate on time than native speakers, education officials said.

A study found 90% of students who completed the state’s English Learner program before entering high school graduate on time, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Sunday.

Data presented to the state Board of Education Nov. 7 shows students who did not require English-language support had an on-time graduation rate of 83%.


The study prepared by the Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education found a 69% on-time graduation rate for students enrolled in the English Learner program during high school.

The lag is expected since those students have not yet mastered the school language of instruction, officials said.

“English learners come to us with so many strengths and there is so much research about the power of being a bilingual or multilingual student,” said Heidi Armstrong, assistant superintendent of student support services.

Hawaii’s families speak 70 different languages at home, with Ilokano the most common, followed by Chuukese, Marshallese, Tagalog, and Spanish, officials said.

Upon entering public school, students whose home language is not English take proficiency tests and receive English Learner services if needed, officials said.

A factor in the success of students learning English as a second language is whether they already have high literacy skills in their own language, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said.

The analysis showed students who completed the English Learner program before high school enroll in college immediately after graduation at a rate of 64%, compared to 55% for students who were never in the program, officials said.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser,