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HOULKA – Houlka Attendance Center third graders were the subject of some great news last week.

The school learned that the children had the highest scores in the state for this area. This was a monumental achievement for both students and faculty there, school officials said this week.

Third grade students in the state of Mississippi have to make a certain score on an assessment called the Reading Gate. The assessment is scored on five levels, with one as the lowest score and five as the highest.

The last couple of years, the score to pass was a two, however, this year the passing score was raised to three. That led many to predict a decrease in the percentage of students passing. Houlka found the opposite to be the case though, with 94.1% of their students passing the assessment.

“They were prepared throughout the state to have a decrease in the passing rate,” said Chickasaw County School District Superintendent of Education, Dr. Betsy Collums.

With a higher passing score required, no one expected such a high passing rate.

Houlka experienced a shift in the faculty for this year, but that did not seem to be detrimental to the students’ preparedness. If anything, it seems to have helped.

“We had a fourth grade Language Arts teacher who left during the year,” said Dr. Collums. “ So we had to hire another teacher, and just looking at the way the teachers were going to be placed for the year, I suggested to our principal that we might look at the idea of bringing our second grade Language Arts teacher up to third grade.”

This was in no way a mark against the–then third grade teacher’s abilities. In fact, she was moved to the fourth grade, Dr. Collums said.

The results were better than they ever could have imagined.

Dr. Collums spoke about how they planned to proceed from here and what their goals will be.

“I’m very pleased and I hope we can continue in our lower elementary to build the foundational skills that are needed and hopefully we’ll have all of our students passing the reading gate,” said Dr. Collums.

Whatever happens, they look forward to being back in school this fall and getting another class ready for the test.

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