Skip Navigation
archived information
REL Pacific
Early Literacy icon

Strategies to Support Literacy in Hawai'i


REL Pacific supported the Hawai'i Department of Education (HIDOE) through a coaching project to build participants' capacity to integrate evidence-based literacy approaches that fit the Hawai'i context into the development of a new statewide literacy plan and to align literacy instruction and professional learning approaches with other state initiatives. The integration of effective literacy approaches for young and adult learners is an important step toward helping build effective reading skills in Hawai'i that create the foundation for future academic, career, and life success.

High-Leverage Need

Research consistently demonstrates the importance of developing on-level reading proficiency by grade 3 (Banks Zakariya, 2015). Being proficient in reading by grade 3 is associated with greater high school graduation rates, college attendance, and the development of social emotional competencies (Lesnick, Goerge, Smithgall, & Gwynne, 2010). Research also shows that integrating learning across multiple disciplines provides students in all grades with a more comprehensive and unified learning experience (Cope & Kalantzis, 2015). Additionally, adults who are not able to read or write tend to earn on average just 44 percent of what a literate person will (Kutner et al., 2007), and may struggle with other everyday challenges such as understanding transportation methods or helping their children with their schoolwork.

Within this landscape, HIDOE is developing a statewide K–20 literacy plan that specifically emphasizes best practices in literacy instruction and supports to better prepare more learners of any age with literacy skills for their college, career, or life success. HIDOE has requested REL Pacific support as they identify and incorporate evidence-based practices for literacy instruction and professional learning for literacy at the school and community level.

REL Pacific Project Support

This coaching project supported HIDOE staff, school administrators, and community organization representatives who were tasked with integrating evidence-based research to develop and communicate a statewide literacy plan for Hawai'i. Stakeholders' goal for this project was to develop a framework of high-quality literacy strategies for young children to adult learners to ensure that teachers, community organizations, and families all understand and share the same vision for literacy instruction across the state.

Through a series of coaching sessions, REL Pacific drew on a range of evidence-based research practices that inform professional learning programs, literacy instruction, and family and community engagement and served as a thought partner in discussions on increasing the strength of systems-level partnerships. By thinking through the various elements of effective literacy practices through coaching sessions with REL Pacific, stakeholders were able to develop a draft literacy plan to identify what Hawai'i's school system as well as community organizations need to increase literacy levels using a comprehensive, multi-stakeholder approach.


Erin D'Amelio

Erin D'Amelio, research associate, provides research and consultation support for a variety of projects under the REL Pacific contract. Erin holds an M.S.Ed. in International Educational Development from University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in English and French Language from Lafayette college. Contact Erin at or call 1.808.664.8183.



Banks Zakariya, S. (2015). Learning to Read, Reading to Learn: Why third-grade is a pivotal year for mastering literacy. Alexandria, VA: Center for Public Education.

Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (2015). The things you do to know: An introduction to multiliteracies pedagogy. In Cope, B. & M. Kalantzis (Eds.), A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Learning by Design (pp. 1–36). London: Palgrave.

Kutner, M., Greenberg, E., Jin, Y., Boyle, B., Hsu, Y., and Dunleavy, E. (2007). Literacy in everyday life: Results from the 2003 national assessment of adult literacy (NCES 2007–480). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. 2007480.pdf.

Lesnick, J., Goerge, R., Smithgall, C., & Gwynne J. (2010). Reading on grade level in third grade: How is it related to high school performance and college enrollment? Chicago: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.