Stoughton Area School District has been deemed to “exceed expectations” set by the state Department of Public Instruction.
The distinction, given out based on the 2020-21 academic year, is the same as what the district earned for the 2018-19 school year, with a slightly lower score of 72.6 for 2020-21 than the score of 75.3 two years prior. No district report card data is available for the 2019-20 school year because the state ordered schools to close their doors to in-person instruction for a quarter of that year as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.
This is the district’s second consecutive year of having an overall score that exceeded expectations; from 2017-18 to 2018-19, the district improved significantly in the areas of closing gaps between students and growth in student knowledge.
“We are incredibly proud to say that we exceed expectations as a district,” district superintendent Tim Onsager said in a statement to the Hub. “This is a testament to our staff, students and families in the most trying of times.”
On all of the state report card sheets, DPI includes a disclaimer that people should take caution when interpreting scores and ratings because of how the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted K-12 education for the last part of 2019-20, and made it look different in 2020-21. The majority of SASD students, for example, didn’t return to in-person education for the 2020-21 school year until late January, and students didn’t return for four full days a week until mid-April, but some students chose to remain virtual throughout the rest of the spring semester.
All of the school sites that received a formal grade in the district also meet or exceed expectations, with Fox Prairie and Sandhill elementary schools and Stoughton High School being graded as exceeding expectations.
The district as a whole is outpacing state averages in student achievement in English and Mathematics, as well as seeing higher-than-average district-wide student growth. The district is considered to be significantly exceeding expectations with its metrics measuring student readiness for graduation, earning scores that were higher than the state average for lower levels of chronic absenteeism, the rate of graduation and eighth grade math. The district is a few tenths of a point lower than the state average of third grade English/Language Arts proficiency.
Throughout the district, there are still academic achievement gaps between students of color and their white peers.
Black students tend to have higher rates of scoring as “basic” or “below basic” in the subjects of reading and mathematics than their white peers. The 2020-21 data reflects the test scores of 1,620 students, which is approximately 240 less students than those who were tested in 2018-19.
Based on the district-wide report card, 93.5% of Black students rank in the areas of basic or below basic in reading and 93.4% in math, while white students statistically score higher in reading and math, with only 56.6% and 61.3%, respectively, being ranked as basic or below basic.
The achievement gaps between Hispanic and non-Hispanic white students was more narrow, with 75% of students being below basic or basic in reading, and 81.8% below basic or basic in math.
The district conducted a family survey this fall so it could better understand the experiences of its students and families that it will release once the information has been analyzed, an email statement from the district said.
“We are just beginning to dig into the feedback, but it is largely favorable at all schools,” district director of curriculum and instruction Kate Ahlgren said in a statement to the Hub. “The combination of the survey results and our DPI report cards are something to be proud of this season.”
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