Hawai‘i became the 50th state in 1959, and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, comprised of approximately 130 islands with a total area of 6,470 square miles. The eight largest islands are Hawai‘i, Maui, O‘ahu, Kaua‘i, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, Ni‘ihau, and Kaho‘olawe. Hawai‘i’s population is approximately 1,360,301 residents (as of the 2012 U.S. Census) and about four-fifths live on O‘ahu. Hawai‘i is the only U.S. state with a minority-dominant population, with 38% Asian and 10% Native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander.
The Hawaii Department of Education was founded by King Kamehameha III in 1840. It is the only statewide, single- school district in the United States, and is led by a superintendent of education, who is appointed by and reports to the state board of education. There are approximately 215,345 students in the public schools, taught by 11,069 teachers. Hawai‘i’s compulsory schooling age is from 6–18. Hawai‘i’s student demographics have shifted to include a significant number of Micronesian students from the Freely Associated States. The official language of instruction is English. There are more than 20 postsecondary institutions throughout the Hawaiian Islands offering a range of programs, from certification programs to doctoral degrees.
REL Pacific’s work in Hawai‘i is focused on the optimizing data systems priority area by supporting stakeholders in the use of Hawai‘i-specific, publicly available data sources in order to build local capacity to conduct education research within the state and foster collaboration among local researchers. Specifically, REL Pacific is working to identify research topics that can be addressed using publicly available data, as well as sources of education data and research used by education stakeholders to guide their practice.