Native Hawaiian

Under the umbrella of the Pihana Nā Mamo (Pihana) title, CRDG, in partnership with the Hawai‘i Department of Education, is implementing three projects funded through the Native Hawaiian Education program (NHEP) in the U.S. Department of Education. The current Pihana or CRDG NHEP projects leverage and build on former Pihana projects that date back to the 1990s. Collectively, they have focused on research based approaches to increasing levels of success of Native Hawaiian students in two areas: reading in grades K–6 and transitions, both from middle school to high school and from high school to college or other post-secondary options. The current projects have expanded this focus to include mathematics in grades K–3 and to fully integrate a Response to Intervention (RTI) model that provides multi-tiered academic and positive behavior supports, assessments, and interventions into their design.

Response to Intervention (RTI) is a comprehensive early-detection and prevention system that identifies struggling students and assists them before they fall behind. This system uses universal screening and high-quality instruction for all students and provides interventions targeted for struggling students. RTI has shown promise in reducing special education referrals. In 2009, specific and coherent evidence-based recommendations for its use were published in the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) practice guide. RTI integrates assessment and intervention within a multi-level prevention system to maximize student achievement and reduce behavior problems. Within the RTI model, the CRDG NHEP projects focus on improving academic outcomes and behavior, which are closely associated with school success.

Integral to an effective RTI model, CRDG NHEP projects have adopted an evidence-based School-wide Positive Behavior Support (SWPBS) approach. In 2009, Horner et al. found that SWPBS training and technical assistance were related to the percentage of Grade 3 students meeting or exceeding state reading assessment standards. SWPBS is a framework for enhancing adoption and implementation of a continuum of evidence-based interventions to achieve academically and behaviorally important outcomes for all students. Another element of this aspect of the project was a program of strong community support that was the impetus for a series of publications to provide students and community members with authentic cultural knowledge.

CRDG NHEP projects’ reading approaches align with recommendations made by the IES WWC determined to have high levels of evidence in promoting practices that have shown promise in increasing reading comprehension among students in kindergarten through Grade 3. First implemented in 1996, CRDG NHEP projects use research-based strategies of model (“I do”), lead (“we do”), and test (“you do”), which resonate with the Hawaiian style of teaching and are reminiscent of the manner in which many learned from their kumu hula. The project has demonstrated that Hawaiian students are able to make significant gains when presented with a skills- and research-based reading approach that builds on empirically validated foundational skills in beginning reading (phonemic awareness; alphabetic principal; accuracy and fluency with connected text; vocabulary and oral language including the ability to understand and use words orally and in writing; and comprehension). The reading curriculum and strategies used by CRDG NHEP projects also emphasize the importance of mastery. Such an approach is evocative of an indigenous way of learning in which a person’s role and membership in a community or tribe were contingent upon the mastery of skill.

CRDG NHEP elementary school project sites administer the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills measures to assess the acquisition of these foundational skills in beginning reading (Five Big Ideas) from kindergarten through Grade 6. At a minimum, benchmark assessment data are gathered three times a year on every child to determine which students are responsive to the intervention provided and which students are in need of more intensive support. Based on the data, research-based interventions are employed for each level of support, from broad-based programs designed to build the skills for most or all children in the class (tier-1 support) to high-intensity, individual or small-group interventions (tier-3 support). When student progress is monitored regularly, student data are used to differentiate instruction and re-group as needed in accordance with student’s skill level.

For More Information

Hugh Dunn, Principal Investigator


Project Briefs

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