A Historically Racially and Ethnically Diverse State

Hawaii is unique in that the state serves as the only school district. Therefore, Hawaii is a state comprising one district, one data system, and one set of policies. The state began disaggregating its racial/ethnic data about 20 years ago. Since that time, many racial/ethnic groups have changed or been broken down into more detail, as the need has arisen (see figure 13). For example, the most recent change Hawaii made was to break out the Micronesian and Tongan subgroups.

Despite public support for the data disaggregation project, the state experienced some procedural pushback when data teams resisted having to go back into the system to recode students’ racial/ethnic identities. However, Hawaii had put policies and procedures in place to inform all stakeholders of the change, the purpose behind the change, the time frame, and other salient information—usually in the form of a statewide memo.
Using the Disaggregated Data
Hawaii began to use its new data right away, but the state estimated that it took about 3 years for optimal data quality to be achieved. In spite of this, they were able to use the data immediately because Hawaii’s primary use of disaggregated data is for federal reporting, specifically enrollment counts by ethnic groups (see figure 14). In
some cases, the data helped with the identification of students potentially eligible for English language learner (ELL) instruction and, accordingly, what services schools need to provide based on the number of students in need. For example, administrators review these data trends to ensure that they hire the appropriate number of ELL staff. To a lesser degree, performance measures are broken into racial/
ethnic subgroups.

There are a number of public reports, including the annual Superintendent’s Report and the School Status and Improvement Report, which highlight disaggregated data on student enrollment by racial/ethnic identity. The Hawaii DOE does receive some public requests for disaggregated data.

Are you (J) Hispanic (Ex. Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Spanish, Other Hispanic)? • Yes • No
Check all that apply:
• A – American Indian or • E – Native Hawaiian • K – Samoan • P – Tongan
Alaska Native
• B – Black • G – Japanese • L – White • Q – Guamanian/
• C – Chinese • H – Korean • N – Indo-Chinese • R – Other Asian
(Ex. Cambodian,
Laotian, Vietnamese)
• D – Filipino • I – Portuguese • O – Micronesian • S – Other Pacific
(Ex. Chuukese, Islander
What is the student’s primary race?
(Select only ONE letter from either the ethnicity or race list and fill in the blank)
• I decline to provide ethnicity and race information. I understand that if I do not provide this information, a school representative will designate the ethnicity and race categories for my child.

Figure 13. The Hawaii Department of Education serves its schools as their state education agency and their school district simultaneously. It disaggregates its racial/ethnic data more than is required for federal reporting purposes, which helps it serve its diverse student population.

Ethnicity Students Percentage
Black 5,398 2.9
Hispanic 6,950 3.8
Native American 1,177 0.6
Native Hawaiian 48,906 26.4
Chinese 5,959 3.2
Filipino 41,178 22.2
Indo-Chinese 2,262 1.2
Japanese 17,084 9.2
Korean 2,148 1.2
Other Asian 836 0.5
Asian two or more 202 0.1
Guamanian/Chamorro 534 0.3
Micronesian 7,441 4.0
Samoan 6,537 3.5
Tongan 1,358 0.7
Other Pacific Islander 958 0.5
Pacific Islander two or more 22 0.0
White 30,716 16.6
Portuguese 2,908 1.6
White two or more 5 0.0
Multiple, two or more 2,694 1.5
TOTAL 185,273 100.0

Figure 14. The Hawaii Department of Education uses its disaggregated racial/ ethnic data—especially as it relates to enrollment counts and percentages—to serve its diverse population.

Native American 5 0.6%
Black 17 2.2%

Chinese 44 5.8%

Filipino 73

Native Hawaiian 133

Japanese 96

Korean 20 2.6%
Portuguese 2 0.2%
Hispanic 19 2.5%

Figure 15. The Hawaii Department of Education releases annual School Status and Improvement Reports that use its disaggregated racial/ethnic data at the school level. This example is from school year 2014-15 for Kaimuki High School.

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