H-PT does well in M-STEP testing

Anders Hill, superintendent of Houghton-Portage Township Schools, reports on the district’s Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress M-STEP results. (Houghton Daily Mining Gazette photo)

HOUGHTON — Houghton-Portage Township Schools students had strong showings in last year’s standardized test results, Superintendent Anders Hill said.

Third through eighth grade Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress results were released last week. Scores were stable from previous years, and ahead of state and Copper Country Intermediate School District averages.

In some categories, the percentage of proficient students was higher than in 2018-19, the last full year prior to COVID.

For English/language arts, 65.8% of Houghton third-grade students met or exceeded the standards for proficiency in 2021-2022, while 63.6% of sixth-graders did. Statewide, those rates were 41.6% and 37.6%, respectively.

In 2018-19, Houghton had been at 67.2% in the elementary school, and 55.3% in the middle school. Statewide, the third-grade and sixth-grade were both several points higher in the pre-COVID year, at 45.1% for third and 41.7% for sixth.

Hill said he was especially proud of the district math scores, which in some cases were double the state average for proficiency.

In math, 70.9% of Houghton third-graders were at or above proficiency, below the 75.7% from 2018-19, but above the 68.9% from last year. Statewide, third-graders were at 41.5% in 2021-22, down from 46.7% in 2018-19.

Sixth-graders were at 59.8%, down from 65.2% last year but above the 58.5% from 2018-19. Michigan sixth-graders had dropped from 35.1% in 2018-19 to 28.4% in 2021-22.

“This is really good high-level information that kind of tells us how we stack up against other schools in the state,” Hill said. “We don’t use it a ton because we collect information in the moment to help students grow. I think that’s why our scores are high because we are focused on individual students and how we can make sure each kid is growing.”

The board also heard introductions of new teachers. The elementary school has five new teachers. Tiffany Maas-Berkey had been with the district for several years as a Title I paraprofessional before becoming a third-grade teacher. Second-grade teacher Andee Hiner had also been with the district before, both as a paraprofessional and a student teacher.

Jamie Mack comes to the district from Dollar Bay, where she taught

“By the interview, I thought, ‘Maybe I can do this,'” she said. “I’m so thankful that I did switch, because I was in kindergarten for 19 years, and I thought that’s where I was going to be. I thought I was going to retire from kindergarten, but I’m really loving second.”

Tessa Cipriano, who is teaching a couple of sections of math in the fifth grade, graduated from Northern Michigan University last spring. She was born in the area, although not raised here, Elementary Principal Cole Klein said.

Special education teacher Dominique Crowley came from Chassell, where she taught second grade. Originally slated to be a classroom teacher, she moved to special education when the school’s resource room teacher moved to a position at the CCISD.

Middle school English teacher Patrick Aldrich, a former principal at the elementary school, is also helping out in the afternoons as the student affairs coordinator.

At the high school, Jessica Klein is teaching ninth-grade English as well as a section of eighth grade. Before coming to Houghton, she taught for many years in Lake Linden.

“It’s been really exciting,” she said. “Great student body. I can tell there’s community support.”


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