The state Department of Education this school year paid more than $12.7 million to independent education consulting companies to help revamp underperforming schools. But most of the money has gone to one mainland company that critics say has been largely ineffective.
That company, EdisonLearning, and other consultants visit the schools to provide professional development services, conduct regular benchmark assessments, build site capacity and help teachers interpret data — often forging a partnership that some Hawaii educators say has significantly boosted their students’ achievement.
But others criticize the arrangements, saying they send public money out of Hawaii to for-profit providers that have hardly enhanced student performance on state assessments. Of the five providers with which the state currently partners, one is local and one is not-for-profit.
“All of our [federal funding] goes to a private, for-profit company instead of the money going to supplies,” said Sarah Tochiki, a teacher at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School on Kauai. Kamakahelei Middle has Title I status, meaning it receives federal funds earmarked for high-poverty schools.