Katrina evacuees in third, fifth grades perform poorly in Texas exam

DALLAS (AP) -- Young Hurricane Katrina refugees living in Texas scored considerably worse on a statewide standardized exam than Texas children, and thousands of them could be held back.
Teachers and state officials blame the low scores on New Orleans' poor school system, the trauma of being abruptly uprooted from their homes, and the possibility that some of them were put in the wrong grade after arriving in Texas with no records.
The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, a test of reading and math ability, was given in February to third- and fifth-graders, who must pass in order to move up to the next grade. About 38,000 Katrina evacuees are enrolled in Texas schools.
Only 58 percent of evacuees in third grade passed the reading portion, compared with 89 percent of all pupils. In fifth grade, 46 percent of evacuees passed the reading portion, versus 80 percent among all pupils.
"We've got kids who are coming into our secondary system and cannot read," Houston school board member Larry Marshall said.
Between the two grades, about 2,000 refugees failed. Pupils who failed will have two more opportunities to pass the test this spring, but some worry the learning gap is too wide to close.

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