Categorized | Education

Enrollment open for ‘Step Up’ recognition diploma


Did you know that by 2018, 65 percent of jobs in Hawaii will require a college degree, according to a 2010 report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce? Yet fewer public school graduates are truly prepared to enter college or start a career.

In fact, according to a recent survey from Ward Research, Hawaii residents support rigorous high school graduation requirements. Seven out of ten residents agree that, in order to graduate, high school students should complete courses that prepare them for admission to a four-year college, regardless of whether they plan on attending college.

Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education, the state Board of Education (BOE) and the Department of Education is coordinating a statewide drive to encourage public school eighth and nine graders to “step up”, by opting in to earn the Hawaii State Board of Education’s (BOE) “Step Up” Recognition Diploma.

This rigorous program includes more challenging classes in math, science and writing, and it also includes the completion of a senior project. The diploma is available to all Hawaii public school students beginning with the class of 2013 (current sophomores).

“The Step Up Campaign encourages rigorous academic achievement and is part of Hawaii’s education reform plan to ensure every public school student graduates career and college ready,” said DOE Superintendent Kathyrn Matayoshi. “The BOE Recognition Diploma is an investment by our graduates to ensure they have more choices upon graduation.”

“Ensuring students are career and college ready is at the top of our state’s education agenda. To succeed in today’s information age and to prepare for a dynamic and ever-changing future, students need to have a high-quality education that includes studying advanced reading, writing and mathematics. Every student who “steps up” to a more rigorous curriculum in high school is on a path to a brighter future,” said Karen Lee, Executive Director, Hawaii P-20.

First initiated in 2009, currently more than 9,800 public school students statewide from the Classes of 2013, 2014 and 2015 have committed to earning the BOE “Step Up” Recognition Diploma, including 4,286 sophomores, 3,813 freshmen and 1,744 eighth graders.

On Hawaii Island alone, more than 1,100 students have “Stepped Up” and enrolled in the Step Up program.

The following schools have pledged more than 50 percent of its students from the classes of 2014 or 2015: Ke Kula O Ehunuikaimalino, Ke Kula O Nawahiokalaniopuu Iki, Paauilo Elementary and Intermediate, Honokaa High & Intermediate, Waikoloa Elementary & Intermediate, and Waimea Middle School.

The program now hopes to enroll as many as possible eighth and ninth graders by May 31, 2011 to continue this positive trend.

Some of the reasons to consider “Stepping Up”:

* While in high school, Step Up students will receive information on college and career preparation and invitations to college-prep events and other activities.

* Graduates who earn the BOE “Step Up” Recognition Diploma have better access to college grants and scholarships, as well as special consideration for various Hawaii scholarships.

* Students who earn a GPA of 3.0 or higher receive the BOE “Step Up” Recognition Diploma with Honors, and will receive priority admission to select Hawaii colleges and universities (other conditions may apply).

*Select Hawaii employers will grant advancement in their employment application processes including the Carpenters and Drywall Union apprenticeship programs, City Mill, Hawaiian Electric Company, Maui Electric Company, Hawaii Electric Light Company, and Island Movers.

The Step Up campaign aligns with a national movement to raise the value of a high school diploma by increasing the rigor of high school standards, assessments and curriculum, and aligning expectations with the demands of postsecondary education and careers.

To date, 20 states and Washington D.C. have adopted a more challenging diploma aligned with national standards.

Students, parents and caregivers interested in learning more about the Step Up campaign or to enrolling by May 31 can visit

Step Up is a community-wide campaign of Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education, the Hawaii State Board of Education (BOE) and the Department of Education. Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education, a statewide partnership led by the Good Beginnings Alliance, the Hawaii State Department of Education and the University of Hawaii System works to strengthen the education pipeline from early childhood through higher education so that all students achieve college and career success.

Hawaii P-20’s partners share a sense of urgency about the need to improve Hawaii’s educational outcomes in an increasingly global economy, and have established a goal of 55 percent of Hawaii’s working age adults having a 2- or 4-year college degree by 2025.

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