Summer School for Evacuee Students

Houston area schools with evacuees are gearing up for summer school programs. This comes after poor TAKS test results for evacuees. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports.

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About 5,500 evacuees are enrolled in the Houston Independent School District. Chief Academic Officer Karen Soehnge says the TAKS results have not been good.

"The results are astounding. They range anywhere from seven percentage points to an overall average, both the third and fifth grade, of about 30 percentage points in difference, which we believe is significant."

On the fifth grade math exam, 33 percent of evacuees passed. Soehnge says the results will help schools identify which students need extra help. HISD is just now starting to get nearly $16 million from the Department of Education. HISD Superintendent Abe Saavedra says it won't cover the cost.

"We will receive approximately four-thousand per student. It takes approx $6,000 plus per student to educate every student. We're not getting full funding, but 2/3 funding sure helps over no funding at all."

Saavedra says the money doesn't cover additional services, such as summer school. Revere Middle School Principal Ken Estrella is planning to have all 180 of his evacuee students in summer school at a cost of $100,000. He says the teachers have a huge task ahead of them.

"Are we realistically going to be able to get them to where they are reading on grade level by next year. Probably not. But we're going to give it our best shot. And if we just keep them in these intense programs and tutorial programs and keep them coming to summer programs and getting them ready for high school."

District officials say the poor test results were not unexpected. Ed Domecq taught in New Orleans for 30 years. He's rebuilding his life in Houston and is now teaching at Revere. He says the Texas and Louisiana kids are not different, but the schools systems are.

"They were exposed to a school system that was toxic. In a lot of ways if you would read our curriculum back home, if you would read our discipline rules, it's more rigorous and stricter then it is here, it's just that it wasn't followed ever. Here, people are trying, people are working together and that's what makes the difference here."

Domecq is optimistic the evacuee students will be able to catch up. But district officials say the extra efforts won't end after summer school. Officials expect most of the evacuees to return next year. This year, the evacuee scores did not count toward a school's accountability rating ... but it's expected to be next year. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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