Founded in 1840 by King Kamehameha III, Hawaii’s public school system is the oldest in the nation west of the Mississippi. Kindergarten is not mandatory in Hawaii, but most five-year-olds do attend. The Hawaiian Islands are served by a single, statewide school district that ranks as one of the largest in the United States, serving more than 180,000 students. Favorable student-teacher ratios are conducive to individualized attention and excellence in education. For grades 3 through 12, this ratio is as low as 15:1. The K-2 average is 20:1.

Because the district is so large, it is subdivided into complexes of a high school and the middle and elementary schools that feed into it. For more efficient administration, these complexes are grouped into complex areas, each with its own superintendent. Several special schools and nearly 30 charter schools provide alternative learning environments within the public school system. Although publicly funded, charter schools enjoy much more freedom in their basic structure. Their direction and focus are determined by the board set up with the approved charter.

Hawaii also provides Community Schools for adult education, high school degree programs, citizenship training, and classes for learners of English as a second language as well as non-academic “special interest” courses. For further details on public education in Hawaii, contact:

Hawaii Department of Education
1390 Miller Street
Honolulu, Oahu 808-586-3230

Accountability Resource Center
Information 808-733-4008

Charter School Administration
Information 808-984-8011

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