Report: Class of 2023 high school graduates persist amid pandemic obstacles

March 19, 2024
Kaua’i Now

Findings from the newly released College and Career Readiness Indicator report sheds light on the accomplishments and unprecedented challenges faced by high school graduates who were in high school during pandemic shut down.

Produced annually by Hawaiʻi P–20 Partnerships for Education, in collaboration with the Hawai‘i State Department of Education and the University of Hawaiʻi, the Class of 2023 report details the achievements of 11,538 students across 65 public schools including public charters.

Despite facing the hurdles of distance learning for approximately half of their high school years, 33% of students from the Class of 2023 graduated with honors and 86% of the cohort graduated on time.

Additionally, participation in the dual credit program reached all-time highs, with 24% of graduates taking at least one dual credit University of Hawai‘i college class, and 16% earning six or more college credits by graduation. Seventeen percent of graduates earned advanced placement scores of three or better, the highest level since the start of the pandemic.

In 2017, the first year the Seal of Biliteracy was offered, only 37 graduates earned the Seal. The Class of 2023 had 557 graduates earning this honor, representing a 15-fold increase. Completion of Career and Technical Education programs remained steady with 64% of Hawai‘i State Department of Education graduates taking at least two courses in a Career Pathway. The top three Class of 2023 Career Pathways were Hospitality, Tourism and Recreation (23%); Cultural Arts, Media and Entertainment (21%); and Health Services (19%).

The college going rate for the Class of 2023 remains flat from the prior year with only 51% of the graduates attending college the first fall after high school graduation. Of particular concern is the post-pandemic drop in college access among economically disadvantaged graduates: Only 40% of these Class of 2023 graduates went to college immediately after high school, down from 44% for the Class of 2019.

“While the college going rate to four-year schools is slowly recovering from the pandemic, we are concerned that fewer graduates are going to community college, especially at UH’s seven campuses. UH Community Colleges are affordable on-ramps to four-year universities, and offer two-year and certificate programs that enable graduates to find great jobs right here at home,” said Stephen Schatz, the executive director of Hawaiʻi P–20 Partnerships for Education. “While it’s popular in 2024 to say that college isn’t worth it, that’s just not true. Most jobs in Hawaiʻi that pay a life-sustaining wage require more education or training than a high school diploma.”

In a study that evaluated the workforce earnings of University of Hawai‘i students who earned two- and four-year degrees, the University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization found that nine years after completing a college degree, students who received Pell grants (i.e., proxy for socio-economic status) earned wages similar to their non-economically disadvantaged peers, mitigating the effects of intergenerational poverty.

Throughout their lifetimes, a college degree holder earns a 27% higher income, or $2.8 million more in wages for a bachelor’s degree and $2.7 million more, or a 22% higher income, for an Associate of Science and Associate of Applied Science degree, when compared to students who stopped out and did not earn a degree.
“The data is clear that there is significant value to earning a college degree,” said David Lassner, University of Hawai‘i president. “College graduates, even those who have been economically disadvantaged, enjoy increased earnings over their lifetimes and many other benefits. Higher education is the most effective pathway to break generational poverty and create opportunities for thriving families and communities.”

Academic readiness is a key predictor of college access and success, and academic readiness as measured by the ACT will continue to be monitored. The percentage of students who completed the ACT increased to 74%, a 13% increase from last year. The ACT metrics illustrate that overall test-taking is on the rise but has not yet reached pre-COVID pandemic levels.

“This year’s CCRI [College and Career Readiness Indicator report] for the graduating class of 2023 showcases the progress that our students have made across the state in the past year, and impresses upon us the urgency of the academic recovery from the pandemic,” said Tammi Chun, deputy superintendent of Hawaiʻi State Department of Education. “While we are seeing academic achievement nearing return to pre-pandemic levels, as measured by test scores, our post-high outcomes continue to be impacted.

“College — whether pursuing a career and technical field at community college or a bachelor’s degree at a university — is one pathway for graduates to pursue their career and community aspirations. We want all graduates to have the skills and knowledge for post-high success,” Chun continued. “Although the Class of 2023 were faced with challenges of the pandemic, the data demonstrates various positive outcomes such as more graduates earning college credit, earning the Seal of Biliteracy and earning CTE [Career and Technical Education] honors.”

Join a virtual webinar to more thoroughly review the Class of 2023 College and Career Readiness Indicator results on March 27 at 9 a.m. to find opportunities to strengthen the high school to postsecondary pipeline.

Register for the webinar at:

Hawai‘i’s College and Career Readiness Indicator reports are continuously recognized by national organizations, including the Data Quality Campaign, Achieve and the National Governors Association, as a leading example of collaboration between K-12 and higher education and for providing useful information on college readiness.

To view additional metrics online:

Full College and Career Readiness Indicator Reports

College and Career Readiness Indicator web metrics

College Completion by graduated class

College Progress by graduated class

First Fall Enrollments by graduated classes

Student aid hotline to open March 18-22 for federal college financial assistance

March 11, 2024

Local assistance will be available during the public schools spring break for families seeking help with applications for federal financial aid for students entering or attending college.

Hawaiʻi P–20 and GEAR UP Hawaiʻi announced that a hotline will be available March 18-22, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., to answer questions about the 2024-2025 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application. The hotline phone number will be 808-842-2540.

Callers to the FAFSA Hawaiʻi Hotline will be able to speak directly with counselors and financial aid specialists to assist with any questions they may have regarding the FAFSA process.

Additionally, virtual FAFSA Submission Summary Review Workshops have been scheduled for the evenings of March 28 and April 4. The workshops will offer families details on what they can expect in the months following their FAFSA submission, including how to review their FSS and Student Aid Report. Registration for these free webinars is available at

“With so many uncertainties surrounding the current FAFSA, we want people to know that we are here to help with the process,” said Gus Cobb-Adams, Hawaiʻi P–20 College Application and Transition specialist. “Completing the FAFSA is necessary whether you plan to attend a two-year or a four-year college, and it must be completed each year.”

It is anticipated that the FSS will be available by Federal Student Aid and sent directly to students this month. Scholarship providers understand there is a delay in processing the FAFSA form and awarding financial aid funding. Families should confirm with scholarship providers regarding any deadlines for applications in addition to verifying any college tuition deadlines.

Hawaiʻi P–20 will continue its Virtual FAFSA Completion Workshops on Wednesday evenings through April to allow families to ask financial aid questions, get individual assistance with creating their FSA ID, or work directly with an expert to submit their FAFSA. During these sessions, attendees are placed with a representative to receive individualized feedback. Families may also email to directly contact University of Hawaiʻi System financial aid officers and FAFSA experts year round.

Additional efforts to reach families statewide include Hawaiʻi P–20’s recent collaboration with the Native Hawaiian Education Association for the Native Hawaiian Scholarship ʻAha Series. Nearly 1,000 local families gathered to attend these in-person events across six Neighbor Islands. The Scholarship ʻAha Series aims to provide students an opportunity to discover scholarships that are available to Native Hawaiians in one place. During each event, multiple $500 scholarships were awarded by event co-sponsors and matched by the UH System, in addition to FAFSA and financial aid representatives available on site to ask questions or complete their FSA ID.

“For many in our Native Hawaiian communities, participating in Scholarship ʻAha opens doors to opportunities that may seem out of reach,” said Loea Akiona, NHEA president. “Scholarship ʻAha brings financial aid information and resources directly to our communities, increasing awareness, confidence, and application success. This is important work as we believe that an educated lāhui is a healthier, stronger lāhui.”

The Native Hawaiian Scholarship ʻAha Series was a joint effort made possible by ALU LIKE Inc., Hawaiʻi Community Foundation, Kamehameha Schools, KūPono Educational Foundation, Native Hawaiian Health Scholarship Program, Pauahi Foundation and UH Foundation.

For information about upcoming events for high school juniors and seniors, or to register for free upcoming FAFSA workshops or Junior JumpStart Financial Aid Planning webinars starting in April, visit

Job demand for college degree growing in Hawaii, report finds

February 20, 2024
Honolulu Star-Advertiser

The proportion of U.S. jobs requiring postsecondary preparation continues to inch upward, and by 2031 in Hawaii, 70% of job openings will require some type of education and/or training beyond high school, says a report from researchers at Georgetown University.

Jobs in the islands are projected to increase significantly, to 624,000 in 2031 from 591,000 in 2021, with an average of 72,000 job openings annually, said the report by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown.

Of those annual local job openings, 51,000 will be for workers with postsecondary credentials, 18,000 will be for those with a high school diploma and 3,000 will be for those with less than a high school diploma, the report said. More than one-third of all Hawaii jobs in 2031 will require at least a bachelor’s degree (see accompanying box for numbers of jobs by required education levels).

“I think there is a misconception now that there are jobs that are great right here in Hawaii that you can get right after high school with just a high school diploma, and that’s just not the case,” Stephen Schatz, executive director of Hawai‘i P-20 Partnerships for Education, said in a University of Hawaii news release.

“We’re seeing that you need some kind of training,” Schatz said, “whether that’s an apprenticeship program, whether it’s a degree at a community college or whether it’s a four-year degree — some kind of post-high school training and education is what’s going to get our kids into local jobs.”

Between 2021 and 2031, net new jobs in Hawaii requiring postsecondary education and training will grow by 29,000, while net new jobs for workers with a high school education or less will grow by 4,000, the report said.

Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce and lead author of the report, called the latest wave of doubt among younger people about the value of a college degree, and decreases in postsecondary enrollment, “alarming.”

Postsecondary education and training “has become the threshold requirement for access to middle-class status and earnings,” Carnevale said. “It is no longer the preferred pathway to middle- class jobs; it is increasingly the only pathway.”

Skilled workers needed

Demand for skilled workers nationwide has risen sharply over the past 50 years as technological change has moved the economy toward skilled labor and away from unskilled labor, said the report, titled “After Everything: Projections of Jobs, Education and Training Requirements Through 2031.”

In the 1970s about 28% of U.S. jobs required education and/or training beyond high school. Today the proportion is close to 68%, and by 2031 it will be 72%, the report said.

Massive growth in U.S. jobs is projected, with 171 million jobs in 2031, compared with 156 million in 2021. By 2031, 42% of jobs nationwide will require at least a bachelor’s degree, while only 28% will go to workers with a high school diploma or less, the report said.

“Increasingly, the labor force is being divided into two economies: the managerial and professional economy, in which most workers have postsecondary education, and the blue-collar and skilled-trades economy, in which just a little more than half of workers have college educations,” the report said.

Jobs in either the blue- collar clusters of occupations, or the food and personal services clusters, will be the most common occupations for workers with a high school diploma or less in 2031, the report said.

The 2031 projection for Hawaii jobs requiring postsecondary preparation represents an increase of 1 percentage point from 2021, when it was 69%, according to data in the report.

The projected trends vary widely by state. For instance, in 2031 in the District of Columbia, more than 80% of all jobs are expected to require postsecondary education, while in Louisiana and Arkansas it is expected to be less than 60%.

Hawaii is one of 20 states where the 2031 share of jobs that will require workers with some postsecondary training and/or education beyond high school is projected in the report at 69% or greater.

Hawaii is also one of 12 states where the share of jobs for workers with a high school diploma or less in 2031 is projected to be 30% or less.

Health care is the sector expected to grow the most in Hawaii in the decade culminating in 2031 — rising to 74,000 jobs from 58,000, a 28% increase, the report said.

Community services and the arts is second, projected to grow 16%, to 22,000 jobs, while careers in STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — is third with 14% growth, to 33,000 jobs.

Two sectors in Hawaii are projected in the report with decreases by 2031: food and personal services, down 6% to 117,000 jobs; and education, down 2% to 41,000 jobs.

Pay rises with education

Sherry Menor-McNamara, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, said in the release that as jobs become more competitive, “the type of skill sets required becomes more vast and expansive, (and) they do need a more prepared and educated workforce.”

Hawaii efforts underway to align education providers with future workforce needs include a “Hawai‘i Graduates for Hawai‘i’s Future” initiative by the Hawaii P-20 Council, a group of education, business and community leaders. The UH Strategic Plan 2023-2029 lists “Meet Hawaii’s workforce needs of today and tomorrow” among its four imperatives. The state Board of Education’s Stra­tegic Plan for 2023-2029 includes among its 10 goals that “all students graduate high school prepared for college and career success and community and civic engagement.”

The Georgetown report also sounds the alarm about widening gaps in economies and earnings. By 2031, U.S. jobs in the managerial and professional economy will be held overwhelmingly by highly educated workers, the report said. “This is leading to a widening economic divide between those who have postsecondary education and training and those who do not.”

Schatz said the Georgetown report points to the important role that higher education can play in improving the quality of life for people in Hawaii. “It’s not only for the good of our collective state, it’s about the impact higher education can have on an individual, as it is, by far, the best way to boost economic mobility,” he said.

A report in January from the UH Economic Research Organization found significant financial benefits for holders of a UH degree: Lifetime earnings for bachelor’s degree holders, for instance, are projected at $2.8 million — 27% higher than earnings for those who exited their college program without a degree.

The Georgetown report said the chasm is even wider when comparing bachelor’s degree holders with those who earned only a high school diploma. “Of course, exceptions to these general rules always exist, but someone with a bachelor’s degree (but no graduate degree) earns an average of 75 percent more than a person with no more education than a high school diploma,” the report said. “Not going to college at all costs the average individual more than half a million dollars in potential earnings over a lifetime.”

State jobs forecast for 2031

A new report outlines how the 624,000 jobs projected in the year 2031 in Hawaii will break out by educational requirements:

Educational level 2031 jobs Share of jobs

– Less than high school 30,000 5%

– High school diploma 157,000 25%

– Some college, no degree 134,000 21%

– Associate’s degree 76,000 12%

– Bachelor’s degree 158,000 25%

– Graduate degree 69,000 11%

– Percentages do not add up to 100% due to rounding.

Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

Hawaiʻi’s future jobs: 70% require postsecondary education by 2031

February 19, 2024
UH News

Seventy percent of all jobs in Hawaiʻi in 2031 will require postsecondary education beyond high school and 36% will require at least a bachelorʻs degree, according to a new report by Georgetown University, After Everything: Projections of Jobs, Education, and Training Requirements through 2031. The report demonstrates the important role postsecondary education will play in preparing the workforce of the future, according to Hawaiʻi P–20 Partnerships for Education Executive Director Stephen Schatz.

“I think there is a misconception now that there are jobs that are great right here in Hawaiʻi that you can get right after high school with just a high school diploma and that’s just not the case,” said Schatz. “We’re seeing that you need some kind of training whether that’s an apprenticeship program, whether it’s a degree at a community college or whether it’s a four-year degree—some kind of post-high school training and education is what’s going to get our kids into local jobs.”

Nationally in 2021, about 68% of all jobs required at least some postsecondary education. By 2031, the report projects that 72% of jobs will require postsecondary education or training, and 42% of all jobs will require at least a bachelor’s degree.

“We’ve seen waves of this in the past, but the growing doubt about the value of a college degree is alarming. Couple the influx of infrastructure jobs with politicians on both sides saying people don’t need degrees, and you get a generation of young people who think college isn’t necessary,” Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce Director and lead author Anthony P. Carnevale said. “But our findings show, once again, that postsecondary education and training has become the threshold requirement for access to middle-class status and earnings. It is no longer the preferred pathway to middle-class jobs; it is increasingly the only pathway.”

According to the report, the number of jobs in Hawaiʻi will increase from 591,000 in 2021 to 624,000 in 2031, with an average of 72,000 job openings annually, from new jobs and jobs that open for other reasons, most frequently retirement. Of the 72,000 annual job openings, 51,000 will be for workers with postsecondary credentials, 18,000 will be for those with a high school diploma and 3,000 will be for those with less than a high school diploma.

“As the jobs become more competitive, the type of skill sets required becomes more vast and expansive, they do need a more prepared and educated workforce,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii’s president and CEO. “While some high school graduates will go directly to careers, it’s also important for students to explore the opportunity to go the college route so that they can expose themselves to not only the curriculum but also what a university affords.”

Aligning education to workforce training
There are a number of initiatives underway at UH to prepare the workforce of the future for Hawaiʻi. The Hawaiʻi P–20 Council—a group composed of education, business, and community leaders– launched “Hawaiʻi Graduates for Hawaiʻi’s Future” to ensure that all stakeholders are working together to align the education pipeline with workforce needs.

The UH Strategic Plan 2023–2029 also identifies developing successful students for a better future, meeting Hawaiʻi’s workforce needs and diversifying Hawaiʻi’s economy through UH innovation and research as top priorities.

“As the sole provider of higher education in the state, the 10-campus UH system, and supporting UH, will be key in preparing the workforce of the future,” said Schatz. “It begins in recognizing the value of post secondary education. It’s not only for the good of our collective state, it’s about the impact higher education can have on an individual as it is, by far, the best way to boost economic mobility.”

UH degrees affordable, significant return on investment
UH Economic Research Organization (UHERO) researchers found that lifetime earnings are $2.8 million for bachelor’s degree holders, 27% higher compared to those without a degree, and $2.7 million for Associate of Science (AS) and Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree holders, 22% higher than those without a degree.

UHERO also found that while college tuition has significantly increased nationally over the last 20 years, even after adjusting for inflation, tuition within the UH system has become more affordable over the last decade.

Student financial aid form workshops are offered

Honolulu Star-Advertiser
January 24, 2024

Free virtual workshops to help families complete the recently revised Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, are being offered on selected Wednesdays through April 24.

Registration for the workshops, presented by Hawai‘i P-20 Partnerships for Education and Gear Up Hawai‘i, is open at

“This is a challenging year because the FAFSA application window opened much later than usual, on Dec. 31 rather than Oct. 1,” Angela Jackson, Gear Up Hawai‘i project director, said in a news release. “We have focused our efforts to ensure families in all communities have as many resources available as possible to successfully complete the FAFSA.

“Providing free one-on one assistance virtually is a unique opportunity for families to speak directly with the experts from home,” she said. “We encourage all high school seniors to complete the FAFSA and explore what kind of scholarships and financial aid is available to help you pay for college.”

State schools Superintendent Keith Hayashi added in the release that students should make completing the FAFSA as soon as possible a priority, “regardless of your financial situation. This will not only open doors to grants and aid to pay for college or career and trade school, but also helps determine eligibility for certain scholarships.”

While some people have reported difficulties with the new version, the U.S. Department of Education has touted the form as “The Better FAFSA” and said it is “streamlined from the form’s previous iterations, allowing many applicants to complete it in an hour on average.”