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On April 25, 2024, four Hawai‘i Education Research Network (HERN) graduate student fellows gave presentations at the Hawaiʻi Department of Education (HIDOE) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER)* Foundational Strategies State and Complex Area Leads final meeting. The students are current Graduate Assistants (GAs) working on HERN partnership projects between the COE and HIDOE that are funded through ESSER, which is an emergency relief fund from the U.S. Department of Education to address pandemic-related impacts on education across the nation.

Jessica Lau, MEd in Educational Psychology – Healthy Habits Healthy Schools: Collecting the Validity Evidence for the HMTSS Assessment Tool
This project aimed to collect validity and reliability evidence of the tool by focusing on the relationships and structures of the questions measuring the core components and tier-level implementation of the Hawaiʻi Multi-Tiered System of Supports (HMTSS). The evidence found in this project provides the underlying rationale and basis for implementing HMTSS in all schools in Hawaiʻi.
Preliminary findings found that all five domains of the HMTSS Assessment Tool (i.e., Foundational Beliefs, Data-Driven Team-Based Decision Making, Universal Screening and Progress Monitoring, Multi-Tiered System of Evidence Based Practices, and School Infrastructure and Implementation Support) and their items were reliably consistent. The internal consistency of the domains ranged from 0.74 (Universal Screening and Progress Monitoring) to 0.92 (Multi-Tiered System of Evidence Based Practices).
“Presenting our preliminary findings at the ESSER Meeting in April was a wonderful opportunity to disseminate research findings to our HIDOE practitioners and highlight the importance of conducting research. Partnering with Gordon Miyamoto and Carey Tambio and advised by Dr. Seongah Im has provided me with tremendous opportunities to bridge the gap between researchers and practitioners and ensure meaningful and relevant research is applied in real-world settings. As I transition from higher education to the workforce, I plan to continue bridging this gap for our schools. I appreciate the wonderful research-practitioner projects that HERN supports and am grateful to be a HERN fellow for HMTSS!”

Amy McKee, PhD in Educational Foundations Student; MEd in Educational Administration Alumna – Responsive Capacity Building: A Review of Teacher Professional Development
The purpose of our study is to evaluate the efficacy of teacher PD course offerings to determine if they align to key features of effective PD. Using participatory action-research (PAR) methodology, we examined the last 5 years (2019–2024) of PD course offerings, and after we wrap up our findings, we will make recommendations for how to improve the PDE3 system application.
“Presenting my research at the HIDOE ESSER meeting was a wonderful opportunity actively participating in our research-practice partnership. I was able to make connections with teachers and administrators who are directly connected to my research topic. This meeting helped to humanize the data, level set among stakeholders, and validate that our research aligns with the concerns about the current PD landscape. It was empowering to see firsthand how research can be used to inform practice and create positive change in education, and I appreciate being given such valuable time in our teachers’ schedules. HERN is helping me develop critical research and evaluation skills that are transferable to any industry. I feel so lucky to be on this project and able to participate in a research-practice partnership to help improve teachers’ experiences in Hawaiʻi.”

Patricia Grillet Rodriguez, PhD in Education – Educational Foundations Department – Global and International Track – Effective Academic Practices: Formative Instruction Practices
This research is carried out in partnership between the COE and HIDOE with two main objectives: 1) to explore how formative instruction practices take place inside Hawaiʻi classrooms, and 2) to identify possible strategies to better support teachers in their daily work with this pedagogy. In line with these objectives, a parallel mixed methods research was designed, including quantifiable data, such as years of experiences and frequency in the application of specific strategies, and qualitative data, in the voices of teachers answering to prompts like: please, define in your own words what formative instruction means to you and let us know how do you apply it. The findings show challenges and opportunities in regards to teachers’ practices and professional development targeting the specific needs.
“To present our work at the HIDOE ESSER meeting was a great opportunity to better understand the audience of our research. There was a professional atmosphere of colleagues united to achieve common goals. This made me feel encouraged to keep pursuing my dream of a more relevant and decolonized education. COE/HERN has helped in my career to explore settings I did not have access to before, from which I have learnt different perspectives. Also, it has been an opportunity to perform teamwork, which has allowed me to connect with colleagues in networks that I hope to keep.”

Siobahn Ng, PhD in Educational Foundations Program – Data-Informed Decision-Making in the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education
Initial takeaways were presented from an in-progress research project seeking to understand how the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education uses data at different levels to inform academic planning and instructional practices. Initial findings were gleaned from one-on-one interviews with staff at the state, complex area, and school levels of HIDOE on how data is collected, analyzed, perceived, and used.
“Having worked in civil service for the State of Hawaiʻi before, I can truly appreciate the benefit of institutional partnerships that allow state departments to cooperate on broad, far-reaching issues.  This type of collaborative relationship is even more critical between the two education State of Hawaiʻi education agencie at UH Mānoa and the Hawaiʻi Department of Education. Having the opportunity to work on collaborative research through HERN means that I am able to develop my skills as a researcher while also doing meaningful work for our state’s public education system.”


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