Step Up Campaign Aims to Increase Career and College Readiness for Public High School Students

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    BY ALEX DE SILVA – The Hawaii State Board of Education, in partnership with the Department of Education and Hawai‘i P-20 Partnerships for Education, announced today that the Step Up Campaign is opening up its pledge period for the Classes of 2014 and 2015.

    Step Up is encouraging public school students in the 8th and 9th grades to seek the Board of Education Recognition Diploma, also known as the Step Up Diploma. It requires credits in specific math, science and English courses, and the completion of a senior project.


    Students must sign a pledge form to earn the Board’s Step Up Diploma, which is designed to better prepare them for successful entry into college and a living wage job. Graduates who earn the diploma are rewarded with incentives such as special consideration for scholarships and job application advancement with various employers. Last year, over 6,300 students from the Classes of 2013 and 2014 representing 119 public middle and high schools statewide pledged to earn the Board’s Step Up diploma.

    “By earning the BOE Step Up Diploma, students will be making a direct investment in their future,” said Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi. “To be ready for college and careers, all high school graduates need advanced reading, writing, communications and mathematics skills. Our economic future and quality of life depend on making sure students are well educated and prepared to succeed in a competitive and global economy.”

    “We need to ensure our students are pushed to take rigorous academic requirements in high school, like the BOE Recognition Diploma, to broaden their college and career options,” said Tammi Chun, executive director of Hawai‘i P-20, a collaboration of the Good Beginnings Alliance, Department of Education, and the University of Hawaii.

    To encourage students to pledge early, schools will also be rewarded with resources if they are able to meet a minimum 50 percent pledge participation for their respective classes by December 31, 2010. Middle schools will receive free bus transportation to a college and career related event and high schools will receive free assessment testing for their students to help prepare them for college entrance exams such as the SAT and ACT.

    “The Step Up Campaign encourages rigorous academic achievement and is part of Hawaii’s education reform plan to ensure every public school student graduates college- and career-ready,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “The BOE Recognition Diploma is an investment by our graduates in Hawaii’s economy and future.”

    The Step Up Campaign is working with various businesses and community organizations to help promote the diploma and raise awareness about the importance of career and college readiness for all students. To date, the program has generated the support from over 100 partners statewide. Companies and organizations interested in supporting this year’s campaign efforts should contact Lesli Yogi at Hawai‘i P-20 Partnerships for Education at

    Students in 8th and 9th grade have until May 31, 2011 to pledge.

    Step Up is a program to encourage Hawaii’s students to “Step Up” to the challenge of career and college readiness upon high school graduation and to generate community action in support of students’ education. The Step Up campaign is a partnership of the Board of Education, Department of Education and Hawai‘i P-20 Partnerships for Education. More information about the campaign is available at

    Alex Da Silva is the Public Affairs Officer for the Hawaii Board of Education