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City’s Only Voucher School Outperforming District, And It’s Not Close

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Dane County’s only voucher school is outperforming the rest of the Madison Metropolitan School District on most measures, despite serving a student body that is more diverse and more economically disadvantaged than any other school in the district, according to report cards from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

LCS is making a difference for low-income minority children in Madison,” says pastor Marcio Sierra, whose Lighthouse Church operates the school. “Our goal is to help lower the achievement gap among minority students and their white counterparts in Madison and this report card shows that we are being successful.”  

Lighthouse Christian School scored a 79.2 on the recently released report card, indicating that it “exceeds expectations.” The report card indicates that 52 percent of the school’s students are at grade-level proficiency in both English language and mathematics. That’s compared to a district wide overall score of 66.5, and just 39 percent of students at grade level in English language and 37.7 percent at grade level in math in the Madison Metro School District.

LCS is outperforming the district despite having a student body that’s 92.5 percent students of color, compared to 57 percent district wide, and 86.5 percent economically disadvantaged, compared to 46 percent across the district.

The school is considerably smaller than most public schools in Madison, with 150 students in 4K through seventh grade, but its new facility will accommodate up to 260 in the future. The school also has fewer students with disabilities — 9.5 percent — than the district overall, where just over 14 percent of students have a disability.

In 2016-17, 103 of students utilized a voucher to attend LCS.

Nearly all of the public schools with comparable racial and economic demographics are performing significantly worse than LCS. For example, at Wright Middle School, where 88 percent of the students are of color and 78.4 percent are economically disadvantaged, only 22 percent of students are at grade level for English language and 20.8 percent are at grade level for math. Similarly, at Allis Elementary, where 77 percent of the students are minorities and 67.7 percent are economically disadvantaged, just 13.8 percent of students are at grade level in English language and only 11.9 percent of students are proficient in math.