According to Florida Department of Education data, 14.2 percent of the charter schools that have been graded so far would have dropped more than one letter grade had it not been for the safety net, which prevented schools from falling more than one letter grade. That compares to 21.7 percent of district schools.
In raw numbers, that’s 54 of 381 charter schools and 495 of 2,278 district schools. The numbers do not include school grades that are pending or incomplete.
Last month, the Florida Board of Education voted 4-3 to continue the safety net, which had been used in 2012, after superintendents complained that lower grades brought on by tougher standards would give the public a distorted view of student achievement. Tony Bennett, then the state education commissioner, initially expressed concerns about the safety net but later relented, saying it would help ease the transition to Common Core standards.
Bennett resigned two weeks later after news stories suggested he abruptly changed the school grades formula in Indiana to benefit a politically connected charter school.
As we reported last month, Florida charter schools again earned both A and F grades at higher rates than district schools.