Hawaii’s teachers are gearing up — many of them anxiously — for a sea change in how their students’ performance is assessed, a new system that revolves around the Common Core learning standards.

The idea behind the rigorous, universal math and language arts standards is to level the academic playing field across the country. But the benchmarks, which have been under development across the U.S. in recent years are being fully implemented in Hawaii classrooms this upcoming school year, have been controversial, gaining great notoriety in some circles and immense support in others.

They’ve also caused a good deal of confusion, largely among parents whose kids are going to be tested on the standards.

A new group of teacher fellows in Hawaii aims to smooth out the implementation process, getting feedback from their colleagues and sharing information with the community.

The fellowship is an initiative by the national nonprofit Hope Street Group. The initiative was first announced back in April.

The 17 teachers represent a range of outstanding educators who were selected from a pool of competitive candidates, according to the Department of Education. They will serve as fellows over the next year and have the option of continuing their leadership in various capacities after that.

Through the program, the teachers will be trained in peer and community engagement, data collection and media strategies. They will also collect feedback from other teachers to share with the DOE.

“By engaging school communities, informing state policy decisions, and participating in professional development and training opportunities, fellows will work toward elevating the teaching profession and providing the DOE with critical feedback on the Hawaii Common Core – a set of consistent learning expectations aimed at preparing all graduates for college and careers,” a press release says.

The program is funded by grants from the Harold K. L. Castle Foundation, Hawaii Community Foundation and McInerny Foundation.

The fellows:

  1. Yuuko Arikawa (Leilehua Complex)
  2. Ruth Ballinger (Puunene – Maui District)
  3. Justin Brown (Kealakehe High)
  4. Kristen Brummel (McKinley Complex)
  5. Jaimelynne Cruz (Kamaile Academy)
  6. Elizabeth Marie Fitzpatrick (Keonopoko Elementary)
  7. Michelle June Fujie (Lanai High and Elementary)
  8. Jonathan Gillentine (Windward District)
  9. Tracey Lynn Idica (Aiea High)
  10. Dana Ishiii (Kanoelani Elementary)
  11. Loretta Labrador (Kualapuu Public Charter)
  12. Sharon M. Look (Paia Elementary)
  13. Jonathon Medeiros (Kauai High)
  14. Tracy Monroe (Ilima Intermediate)
  15. Christopher J. Rodriguez (Waipahu Elementary)
  16. Jamie Takamura (Red Hill Elementary)
  17. Leslie Toy (Aiea Intermediate)


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