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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, superintendents, reading and more


    TESTING: Students and teachers react to the Florida Department of Education's decision not to count math end-of-course exams.

    SUPERINTENDENTS: The Brevard School Board agrees to consider non-traditional candidates for its next superintendent, Florida Today reports. • Manatee deputy superintendent Diana Greene ponders her options as her School Board seeks a new leader, the Bradenton Herald reports....

  2. They studied, they took the test, and the state said never mind


    TAMPA — Spencer Coleman felt confident after taking Florida's geometry end-of-course exam this spring.

    The test would count for 30 percent of his semester mark, and he was sure he did well enough to boost his "average" course grade.

    Imagine his dismay, then, after learning Thursday that despite a year spent working to pass this test, his score would be thrown out.

    Why? Nagging concerns that the tests might not be valid. ...

    “It was difficult to use. It was really hard,” said Sunlake High freshman Mikiah Peeples.
  3. Florida education news: Valedictorians, charter schools, science lessons and more


    TOP OF THEIR CLASS: Pinellas County high schools name valedictorians and salutatorians. • Some Brevard high schools change their policies regarding valedictorians, Florida Today reports....

  4. Pasco school officials call for full education funding in 2015-16


    While Florida Board of Education members urge lawmakers to meet the governor's call for historic per-student funding, superintendents have a slightly different message.

    They want lawmakers, who head into a budget special session June 1, to fully fund the growing number of students entering the school system....

  5. Florida education commissioner takes heat over tweet


    The Florida Department of Education posted to Twitter on Thursday what officials hoped would be an inspirational, supportive message from commissioner Pam Stewart....

  6. Florida education news: Community school, flunk fees, class times and more


    COMMUNITY SCHOOL: Hillsborough's Sulphur Springs Elementary prepares for conversion to a K-8 community school to better serve neighborhood children.

    MOVING ON: Joe Sabin retires as principal of Jesuit High after 44 years at the school. • Twins Jake and Jon Wahl graduate Bishop McLaughlin High as their class salutatorian and valedictorian....

  7. Zephyrhills High principal announces his retirement


    Zephyrhills High School needs a new principal for the next academic year.

    Andy Frelick, who lately has come under fire from teachers and some parents, has announced his retirement after 30 years with the Pasco school district. He let his teachers and staff know the news via email on Wednesday:...

  8. State to vendors: AIR will help Florida test validity review


    The panel assigned to pick a firm that will review Florida's testing validity promised to answer any vendor questions in the week leading to the selection.

    It appears that just one firm, Alpine Testing Solutions of Orem, Utah, submitted a query by the May 19 deadline. It asked logistical questions, such as whether Memorial Day would affect submission deadlines. But it also inquired about just how much help Florida's testing provider American Institutes for Research would support the review process....

  9. Florida education news: Commissioner evaluation, student spending, lunch room trays and more


    TOP MARKS: Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart gets a strong evaluation from the Board of Education, with slight mention of recent testing woes. • The board also debated how much school technology is needed in Florida schools, and for what purposes, WFSU reports....

  10. Superintendent withdraws plan to allow students with unexcused absences to make up work


    Lacking support from the School Board, superintendent Kurt Browning this week withdrew his recommendation to allow students with unexcused absences to make up missed assignments.

    Browning had proposed the change based on the work of a committee that spent months investigating the causes and possible solutions to student absenteeism. The group determined that many students have no incentive to attend, and that they also might not have control over their presence....

  11. Pinellas schools get guidance on assigning math course grades


    Now that Florida's state math end-of-course exam results aren't required to count in student grades, district officials have needed to decide how to set the marks. They don't want to hurt students, or make too much extra work for teachers.

    Pinellas officials issued their guidelines on Wednesday. Their plan calls for the second semester grade to be based on students' third and fourth quarter grades, and the final course grade to be an average of the two semester outcomes....

  12. Testing glitches aside, Stewart is praised for stabilizing Florida's education system


    Pam Stewart, who has survived an often-contentious period as Florida's education commissioner, received a solid performance review Wednesday from her bosses on the State Board of Education.

    Board members largely praised her work during the nearly two years she has served, lauding her efforts to improve student achievement while shepherding new standards through a politically charged atmosphere. She is the longest-serving of four education commissioners during Gov. Rick Scott's five-year tenure....

    Pam Stewart’s performance review lasted less than 10 minutes.
  13. Florida Board of Education picks new chairwoman


    The Florida Board of Education has a new person in charge after two years.

    Marva Johnson, a corporate vice president for Bright House Networks, agreed Wednesday to take the reins from two-term chairman Gary Chartrand.

    "I am honored and humbled that my fellow board members selected me to serve as chair," said Johnson, whom Gov. Rick Scott appointed in 2014. "Working with Gary Chartrand has been a tremendous learning experience, and I am excited for the opportunity to serve the people of Florida in this capacity."...

  14. Florida Board of Education urges lawmakers to adopt Gov. Rick Scott's education budget


    Perhaps it's not surprising, given the entire Florida Board of Education was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott.

    But the board on Wednesday unanimously supported a motion asking the Legislature to "demonstrate its commitment to students" during its June special session by implementing Scott's education budget proposal. Scott has called for per-student funding that would be $50 more than the 2007-08 historic high. ...

  15. Pasco sixth graders get more reading course options


    For years, Pasco County sixth graders have taken a course called "developmental reading." Its aim was to better prepare the students for the type of critical reading and analysis that's required in the rest of middle and high school.

    That's all about to change.

    Basking in the flexibility of HB 7069, which Gov. Rick Scott signed into law this spring, the district is letting schools decide for themselves how they want to deal with reading instruction during 2015-16 and beyond....