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OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs

OHA has been a longtime advocate for a waiver from the “one test” federal requirement under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind Act) for immersion students. At the State level, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is forwarding legislation (HB208 and SB437) that would require the DOE to develop independent reading, math and science assessments in the Hawaiian language for Hawaiian language immersion students in accordance with federal accountability assessment requirements.

E ola ka ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi: Assessment tests in Hawaiian language granted federal waiver

HONOLULU (Feb. 19, 2015) – The Office of Hawaiian Affairs commends the U.S. Department of Education for granting a one-year waiver to the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education, allowing students in grades 3 and 4 of the State’s Ka Papahana Kaiapuni (Hawaiian Language Immersion Program) to take assessments developed originally in the Hawaiian language. Previously, these students were only offered assessments in the English language, or English-to-Hawaiian translated assessments.

The waiver was granted in response to School Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi’s request for a waiver from the federal law that requires states to use “one test” for all students to measure academic achievement. In a letter dated January 28, 2015, OHA CEO Kamanaʻopono Crabbe expressed strong support for the Superintendent’s request, stating that the “requested waiver is critical to the perpetuation of the Hawaiian language, which is one of the few Native American languages expected to survive to the middle of the century.”

“We thank the USDOE and the state DOE for their efforts to ensure justice and equity for our Kaiapuni students and schools, as well as for the Hawaiian community at large.” Crabbe said. “This waiver marks a historic and significant step forward, not only for the Hawaiian language, but for all indigenous languages in the United States.”

OHA has been a longtime advocate for a waiver from the “one test” requirement under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act for immersion students. This is because, like scores of other federal laws, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act recognizes that Native Hawaiians stand shoulder-to-shoulder with American Indians and Alaska Natives as an indigenous people of the United States who face unique challenges and have rights under federal law to exercise self-determination in response to those challenges. Moreover, the Native American Languages Act of 1990 (NALA), landmark legislation passed to address generations of federally imposed suppression of Native American languages, provides that it is the policy of the United States to preserve, protect, and promote the rights of Native peoples to use, practice and develop Native languages, including the Hawaiian language, specifically in education, tribal affairs and public proceedings.

As Native American communities around the country also work to perpetuate their heritage while ensuring that their children are college and career ready, they look to the groundbreaking Ka Papahana Kaiapuni Hawaiʻi, as well as the internationally accredited ʻAha Pūnana Leo program, as language revitalization and culture perpetuation models.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has a Hawaiian language assessment bill moving through this year’s State legislative session. The bill (HB208 and SB437) would require the DOE to develop independent reading, math and science assessments in the Hawaiian language for Hawaiian language immersion students in accordance with federal accountability assessment requirements.

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