April 24, 2024

Designing and Implementing the Hawai‘i Core Standards for Social Studies

By Beth Ratway and Melly Wilson

The Hawai‘i Department of Education partnered with the Region 19 Comprehensive Center (R19CC) to revise the Hawai‘i Core Standards for Social Studies (HCSSS). The updated standards, approved by the Board of Education, inform a culturally sustaining and inquiry-based approach to social studies teaching and learning. Schools across Hawai‘i are now working to implement the HCSSS.


Following the adoption of the HCSSS, HIDOE realized that the Department needed to articulate a common way for schools to identify how to systematically move forward with full-scale implementation. To build local capacity for implementation, the HIDOE partnered with the R19CC to develop a framework that provides research-based practices to support high quality implementation of the HCSSS.


In addition to the tool, R19CC supported HIDOE in the development of implementation maps to support the roll-out of the new standards.  Implementation maps help create common language and assist schools in moving toward a more systemic approach to implementation of the HCSSS.  The purpose of mapping standards implementation is to help set and assess implementation goals. Implementation maps can add clarity by providing descriptive actions for each role group involved in supporting implementation. 

R19CC, in collaboration with HIDOE, grounded the work in the research of implementation science and innovation configuration mapping.  The main components of each standards implementation map include:

• Areas of Focus: the research-based factors that ensure high-level implementation.

• Key Roles: the levels of the system that engage in implementing the standards.

• Evidence-based Strategies: identification of the critical strategies needed at each level to support implementation.

• Continuum of Implementation: stages of implementation

In requesting R19CC supports, HIDOE identified three areas of focus for implementation support: curriculum, instruction, and assessment.  They then focused on the key roles that support implementation; State Office of Curriculum and Instructional Design , Complex Areas, and Schools/Administrators and Teachers. R19CC then worked with HIDOE to review the research and evidence to begin to identify evidence-based strategies and supports for each role over three years of support; initial implementation, initial scale up, and full scale up.


The resulting implementation maps are being used by complex areas and schools to assess improvement needs and develop solutions to address those needs. In addition, complex areas and schools can use these tools to build and sustain continuous systemic supports for standards implementation. The standards implementation maps also allow complex areas and districts to better assist with developing and assessing clear standards implementation goals that focus on aligning assessments and developing high-quality instructional materials. 


R19CC continues to collaborate with HIDOE to support the implementation of high-leverage strategies and key action steps related to standards implementation and the identification and adoption of high-quality instructional materials.


Hall, G. E., & Hord, S. M. (2015). Implementing change: Patterns, principles and potholes (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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