Distressed and depressed about HI’s grad rates

I can’t help but feel depressed when reading the recent article Diploma Distress in the Honolulu Star Advertiser.  If you missed it, the article discussed Hawaii school’s graduation rates, highlighting schools with the highest and lowest.  According to the article eight high schools have graduation rates under 75 percent, and 28 schools saw their graduation rates decline in 2009.  The DOE’s goal (as defined in its current Race to the Top application) is to have an overall graduation rate of 80 to 85 percent by 2011 and a 90 percent graduation rate by 2018.  In the article, several DOE leaders mention the need to act early – identifying at-risk students in freshmen year and offering individualized interventions.  Although no specifics were included.  How will students be identified?  How will interventions be implemented, tracked, and evaluated?  What other reforms (curricular, pedagogical, etc.) are being explored?  There are a host of other states and districts paving the way via systematic reforms which I wrote about earlier in the month.  What is our state’s plan?