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Jeffrey S. Solochek, Times Staff Writer

Jeffrey S. Solochek

Jeffrey S. Solochek writes about schools and education for the Tampa Bay Times. Solochek has covered the school districts in Hernando, Hillsborough and Pasco counties since joining the Times in 2000. He also oversees The Gradebook education blog.

Phone: (813) 909-4614


Blog: The Gradebook

Twitter: @JeffSolochek

  1. Florida education news: Testing, finances, overdue repairs and more


    PRIORITIES: On his first official day, Hillsborough superintendent Jeff Eakins talks about his goals for the school district.

    COMMUNICATION: Pasco Pine View Middle leaders scale back their aggressive scheduling and curriculum plans after listening to parent concerns....

  2. Concerns of parents over schedule, curriculum changes at Pine View Middle draw officials' attention


    LAND O'LAKES — Families at Pine View Middle School are tempering their criticism of the school's plans to revamp its schedule and curriculum, as the administration slows its efforts.

    The discussion is far from over, though, as parents continue to keep an eye on Pine View's move toward implementation of the International Baccalaureate middle years program.

    Their concerns center on two key points....

  3. Former Charlotte School Board member takes helm at FSBA


    Andrea Messina, the Florida School Boards Association's director of professional development since 2012, has taken over the organization's top spot as executive director. Her first day on the job was Wednesday.

    Messina, a former three-term Charlotte School Board member, replaced longtime FSBA leader Wayne Blanton, who retired in the spring after four decades advocating for school boards. The FSBA board selected her during a recent meeting in Tampa....

  4. 10 Florida members of Congress call on Gov. Scott to dump this year's testing results


    As this spring's Florida Standards Assessment results continue to trickle out, a group of Florida's congressional delegation on Wednesday asked Gov. Rick Scott to stop the process.

    Contending the outcomes are tainted because of myriad computer problems during the testing period, the 10 members -- nine Democrats and one Republican -- have suggested that the scores cannot be dependable.

    "Even if the statutorily mandated independent evaluation due in September deems test questions valid, serious questions remain about whether the disruptive testing conditions rendered this test an unreliable tool for assessing student learning," the group wrote. "Children across the state suffered through blank screens, crashed servers, and repeated log outs. We cannot reasonably expect our children to perform well under these circumstances."...

  5. All quiet in the hunt for an open Pasco School Board seat


    When Joanne Hurley first ran for Pasco School Board in 2008, she spent more than a year before ballot qualifying in the community getting to know people and, more importantly, making sure voters got to know her.

    Her effort worked so well that she overcame two other civic leaders in the primary by such a large margin that she avoided a general election battle....

  6. Florida education news: Per-student funding, wildflowers, adult education and more


    FUNDING: Lake school officials are happy the district will get $12.5 million in added funding, but still note its per-student funding lags the state, the Daily Commercial reports.

    TAXES: The St. Johns School Board unanimously agrees to seek a local sales tax for school capital projects, the Florida Times-Union reports....

  7. Are Florida teachers ready to seek a Best and Brightest scholarship?


    Reaction to our story on Florida's new program to pay teachers more money based in part on their SAT or ACT scores came swiftly.

    The Washington Post called the idea "kooky." The Herald-Tribune leaned toward "nonsense." Reader feedback proved highly critical, as well....

  8. Set Florida's test cut scores higher, Jeb Bush foundation says


    With new tests in play, the Florida Department of Education plans to set the passing scores this fall, after a validity study is complete.

    The Foundation for Excellence in Education, established by former governor Jeb Bush, wants the DOE to make those cut scores higher. That way, the group contends, Florida students will have a better idea of how they compare to national academic expectations....

  9. Florida education news: Military families, new laws, deputies and more


    EXTRA FUNDING: Florida school districts with concentrations of military families gain added money for support services, WFSU reports.

    NEW RULES: Florida's new budget and several laws affecting education take effect this week, the Orlando Sentinel reports....

  10. Florida Department of Education releases school-by-school testing results


    The percentage of students passing Florida's revised 10th-grade language arts and Algebra I year-end exams, announced with little fanfare Friday, should not have surprised anyone because of the Department of Education's "equipercentile linking" strategy. The percentage of students passing this year was linked to the percentage who passed last year....

  11. Can Florida school districts access $60 million for technology?


    As we reported this weekend, it remains an open question whether the Legislature's appropriation of $60 million for school technology needs will move ahead as intended. Here we take a closer look at the actual language behind the confusion.

    Citing the need to ensure districts spend the money appropriately, lawmakers called for an analysis of district needs before districts get the money. The bill reads:...

  12. Florida education news: Vetoes, rezoning, remedial courses and more


    VETOES: Florida senators say Gov. Rick Scott punished them for not fully supporting his school spending proposal.

    EDUCATION MATTERS: Palm Beach superintendent Robert Avossa says education is key to attaining the American Dream, the Palm Beach Post reports....

  13. Florida education news: Teacher pay, budget woes, plagiarism and more


    TEACHER PAY: Florida lawmakers add $44 million to the budget to give teachers bonuses based on their SAT or ACT scores.

    SALES TAX: The St. Johns County Commission has no authority to block a school district sales tax referendum, the St. Augustine Record reports....

  14. Questions abound for new program that rewards teachers based on SAT and ACT scores


    About two years ago, state Rep. Erik Fresen picked up Amanda Ripley's The Smartest Kids in the World to read on the plane.

    The Miami Republican had no inkling at the time that the book, an investigation into student performance, would end up driving a controversial $44 million line item in Florida's 2015-16 budget.

    But as he plowed through it, Fresen found a common denominator among nations with top academic performance: well-paid teachers with high aptitudes. So he proposed Florida's Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarships, worth as much as $10,000 each....

  15. Florida education news: Classroom technology, special education, charter schools and more


    SCHOOL TECHNOLOGY: Gov. Rick Scott's veto of a $3 million school technology study might jeopardize plans for $60 million in digital classroom funding.

    SPECIAL EDUCATION: Florida parents question whether the state properly accounts for the use of federal ESE funds, WTSP reports....