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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: Turnarounds, accountability, school nutrition and more


    TURNAROUND: Once-struggling Sanderlin Elementary School becomes one of Pinellas County's most in-demand magnet programs as its student results improve.

    ACCOUNTABILITY: Florida needs to slow its move to new testing and be sure schools have time to prepare, the Times editorializes. • The state also should change its timing when releasing school grades to make them more relevant to parents, the Sun-Sentinel editorializes....

  2. Florida education news: Taxes, school grades, class size and more


    JEB BUSH: The former Florida's run for president could be hampered by his adherence to the Common Core.

    TAXES: Pasco County officials consider dropping the school district from a local infrastructure sales tax in future years....

  3. Florida Prepaid fee waiver to end soon


    Planning to buy a Florida Prepaid Tuition plan this season? If you move on it before Dec. 31, you can still save as much as $50.

    The Prepaid College Board reminds us that its fee waiver for all new applications ends when the ball drops next week. It's part of the group's efforts this year to reduce costs and offer more options to families seeking to afford higher education.

    Enrollment will continue through Feb. 28. For more details, visit the Florida Prepaid website....

  4. Florida education news: Charter schools, testing, attendance zones and more


    CHARTER SCHOOLS: School boards and municipal governments across Florida have begun rejecting charter school applications they see as lacking quality, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

    TESTING: Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart should study whether the state's dependence on testing harms students, the Bradenton Herald editorializes. • Marion district leaders and teachers support the state's announced testing review, the Ocala Star-Banner reports....

  5. Pasco School Board finalizes and sends letter on testing concerns


    After weeks of back and forth, the Pasco County School Board finally decided to take a stand on Florida's testing model at its Dec. 16 meeting. Timing then became the issue.

    With the winter holidays fast approaching, board members told the staff they wanted their letter asking for a longer transition to new tests and standards in the mail by the week's end.

    They just made it.

    District officials say the finalized statement went into the "snail mail" to several state leaders on Friday (though it did get e-mailed on Thursday). Pasco became the latest of several school boards to call for changes to the system, while also stating its clear commitment to accountability. "Please give us time to get this right," the board wrote....

  6. Florida education news: Testing, accountability, school grades and more


    TESTING: Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart launches a review of standardized testing.

    NCLB WAIVER: The U.S. Department of Education gives in on Florida's plans for using English-language learners' test scores for accountability. More from the Miami Herald....

  7. U.S. DOE bends on Florida's demands over testing of English-language learners


    Florida's dispute with the federal Department of Education over the testing of English-language learners appears to be over. And Florida looks to have won this round.

    Education Week reports that the feds have decided to give Florida the flexibility it seeks in assessing students who are new to the country and still learning the language, although some conditions apply. Assistant education secretary Deborah Delisle informed the state in a letter on Monday....

  8. Florida Department of Education to review testing, seeks volunteer help


    While seeking reelection, Florida Gov. Rick Scott promised a "thorough investigation of all standardized tests." Education Commissioner Pam Stewart on Monday announced the beginning of that effort (although many school districts already have gone down the road themselves)....

  9. Florida DOE sets calculator rules for new tests


    It may not have its new tests in hand yet. But the Florida Department of Education does have new rules for calculator use on the math Florida Standards Assessments.

    Disappointing some teachers, the policies — released a week ago — don't indicate exactly what types of questions on which students may use a calculator. Instead, they state the sessions when calculators will be permitted. So early preparation in calculator use is tough, perhaps impossible, with the FSA just a few months off....

  10. Florida education news: Teacher training, accountability, early education and more


    SHUT DOWN: Florida Medical Training Institute in Tampa closes down, putting some students' degrees in question

    ACCOUNTABILITY: It's nice for Florida schools to get good grades, but using one test to set the marks remains unconvincing, the Ocala Star-Banner editorializes....

  11. Florida education news: Personalized learning, concussions, teacher turnover and more


    LEARNING STYLES: The Pinellas school district aims to transform its instruction to a personalized learning model.

    CATCHING UP: The Monroe School Board renews its high school credit recovery program, the Keynoter reports....

  12. Florida education news: Transportation, rock and roll, UF milestone and more


    TOO SLOW: Critics says Hillsborough's school transportation transformation is taking too much time.

    LABOR NEWS: The Nassau School Board approves bonuses for staff, the Fernandina Beach News Leader reports....

  13. Land O'Lakes, Fivay principals offer thoughts on improved school grades


    If Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart said it once, she said it a half dozen times for emphasis: Despite higher scores, 55 Florida high schools improved their state-issued grades in 2013-14.

    Two of those high schools, Fivay and Land O'Lakes, are in Pasco County. Fivay, which at one point hovered close to a state turnaround, improved from C to B. Land O'Lakes, usually the county's top performing school, bumped its B back to an A....

  14. Florida education news: School grades, attendance zones, tax votes and more


    SCHOOL GRADES: Fewer Florida high schools earn A grades, but the state's graduation rate inches higher.

    ATTENDANCE ZONES: Some southeast Hillsborough families are upset about proposed school boundary changes to deal with growth....

  15. 100 Pasco teachers win grants for creative instruction ideas


    Every year, teachers end up spending money from their own pockets to support their classroom projects. The Pasco Education Foundation seeks to cushion the impact by offering grants to educators who make compelling arguments for how their needs would benefit student learning.

    This year, the foundation has chosen 100 recipients for the awards. From the looks of the list, some schools are much more active in seeking the support than others....