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Student in DHH Program Receives 34 on ACT Reading Section

January 25, 2022 - High school students who make the decision to get DHH student Jia Billadeau works on school work in class. a college education are responsible for taking the ACT, the standardized test used for college acceptance. The test consists of four sections; English, math, reading, and science, and writing is optional. The national average reading score is just below 21. But senior student Jia Billadeau, who is deaf and attends Parkway West High School, scored in the top 1 % of ACT test takers. Jia received a 34 on the ACT reading section. 

“I was surprised that I got a 34 because the ACT reading portion was a bit hard, and I had to try my best to answer the questions,” said Billadeau. “I felt proud of getting that score and for reading a lot of books.”

The high-test score did not come as a surprise to Jia’s teacher, Zack Jodlowski. Jodlowski is deaf, an instructor of the Deaf at Parkway, and received Emerson’s Excellence in Education Award this year. He has been working with Jia since she was a freshman to develop strategies to manage coursework and transition into becoming an independent young adult. He says that Jia has always been a strong reader and has frequently scored in the post-high school range on reading assignments. Her strengths as a reader are demonstrated through her ability to understand general education content and think critically.

“I was so thrilled and proud when she told me she got a 34 on the reading portion!” said Jodlowski. “It wasn't really a surprise. Jia works so hard in all areas of her life, including preparing for that test. Her score is reflective of the effort and time she spent practicing her reading skills and preparing for the ACT. Her hard work certainly paid off!”

Reading isn’t the only area where Jia excels. While she likes to read for leisure because it's relaxing and takes her mind off school, she is also interested in art and science. In the fall, Jia would like to attend the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, New York and pursue a degree in design or science.

“For art, I enjoy drawing and painting, and I recently learned how to use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, which was fun,” said Billadeau. “For science, I like to learn cool, interesting facts about general science and animals. In the future, I hope to work with and/or take care of animals because I like them.”

Jodolowski, who was in the DHH site-based program at SSD when he was younger, says his favorite part about being a teacher is seeing his students succeed. He feels there is a lack of representation of deaf/hard-of-hearing individuals in the media, so when his students do make great achievements, it proves that they can do anything through hard work.

The best part is that they also realize they can become role models for Deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing people to show that they have no limitations just because they are Deaf,” said Jodolowski.