Academic Achievement

Student performance in Hawaii is below average. Despite significant improvement since our last report, the state stands 7 percentage points below the national average in the percentage of 8th graders who score proficient or higher on the NAEP reading exam. The national average is 35%.

Academic Achievement for Low-Income and Minority Students

Hawaii earns a very high grade in academic achievement for low-income and minority students. Thirty-seven percent of African-American 4th graders score at or above the proficient level on the NAEP reading exam, 19 percentage points above the national average.

Return on Investment

Student achievement in Hawaii is very high relative to state spending after controlling for cost of living. 

Truth in Advertising: Student Proficiency

Hawaii posts mediocre marks on the credibility of its student proficiency scores. The grade is based on the difference between the percentage of students identified as proficient in reading and math on the 2011 state exams and the percentage identified as proficient on the 2011 NAEP reading and math tests.

Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness

Hawaii earns a low grade preparing its students for college and careers. Only 12 students out of 100 pass an AP exam, and the state’s high school graduation rate is below the national average. 

21st Century Teacher Force

Hawaii does a weak job of creating a strong teacher workforce. The Aloha State struggles to expand the pool of teachers and develop well-prepared ones.

Parental Options

Hawaii does a good job providing parents with strong school choice options. The charter school law has improved in recent years by eliminating caps on charter school growth and allowing virtual schools.

Data Quality

Hawaii earns a good grade collecting and reporting high-quality education data. It provides funding for a longitudinal data system and is building stakeholder capacity to use the data.


Hawaii receives a poor grade employing technology to provide quality instruction and personalized learning. The state does not provide sufficient high-quality digital learning options for students.

International Competitiveness

Hawaii earns a very low grade preparing its students to compete in a global economy. Only 21% of students are proficient in reading and math compared with an international standard. Only 2 out of 1000 students pass an AP foreign language exam.

Fiscal Responsibility

Hawaii receives below average marks on fiscal responsibility. Only 59% of the state’s pension is funded.