The state Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans will hold a forum on Sunday in St. Paul to discuss its new report, which shows refugee students in Minnesota score much lower in math and reading than all Asian Pacific students in Minnesota.
Council Executive Director Kaoly Her said language barriers explain some of the disparity. Her also said Hmong students are among the worst performers, even those born in the United States.
"And that's one of the reasons we're having this forum," Her said, "just talking to Hmong parents and letting them know some of the findings that we have, because when we've been talking to them, as we prepare for the forum, a lot of them, this is new information. They just think their kids are doing well."
Her said the council separated data for Asian ethnicities for perhaps the first time by grouping them by language spoken at home.
"Data wasn't really desegregated at this level prior," she said. "When all Asian students are lumped together they are doing very well, and that masks the problems that community says they're facing -- that students are not learning as well."
About half of Asian Pacific students who had been refugees scored proficient the 2011 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment reading test, compared with more than 80 percent of Asian Pacific students who hadn't spent time as refugees.
Her said there are many ways to improve the students' performance, including programs that encourage Asian Pacific children to support one another.