Gulf Coast students who have remained in Texas public schools since fleeing Hurricane Katrina in 2005 have made steady academic gains and now surpass some of their Texas peers on exams in reading and math, according to a study by the state education agency.
Between spring 2006 and spring 2009, students displaced by the hurricane steadily improved their reading and mathematics scores on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, or TAKS. The study, conducted by Texas Education Agency officials and released this month, found that students who were forced to relocate because of the August 2005 storm performed better than other Texas students who were most similar to them based on demographic and economic indicators, as well as on performance on 2006 state exams.
The study also found that the displaced students were, in many cases, performing as well as—or, in some cases, slightly better than—all students in Texas by their fourth year of enrollment in the state’s public schools. In math, the relocated students had not caught up to the performance of all Texas students, but made strides in closing a gap in the 5th grade that was as high as 20 percentage points to one that is now about 6 percentage points, the tea found.
The study examines displaced students who were enrolled in grades 3, 5, and 8 in 2006 and who remained enrolled in Texas public schools in 2009. The school districts in Houston and Dallas took in most of the roughly 46,000 Gulf Coast students, mostly from Louisiana, who relocated to Texas following the hurricane. In 2006, 67 percent of the relocated 3rd graders passed the state reading test, while 93 percent passed in 2009. In the 5th grade, 61 percent passed reading in 2006, while 94 percent did in 2009. Only 48 percent of 8th graders passed the reading exam in 2006, but 91 percent passed last year.
A version of this article appeared in the April 21, 2010 edition of Education Week as Katrina Evacuees Improve on Exams