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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

Email: jsolochek@tampabay.com

Blog: The Gradebook

Twitter: @JeffSolochek

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

    Blog

    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....

  2. Florida education commissioner takes heat over tweet

    Blog

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

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

    Blog

    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....

  4. Zephyrhills High principal announces his retirement

    Blog

    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:...

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

    Blog

    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....

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

    Blog

    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....

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

    K12

    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....

  8. Pinellas schools get guidance on assigning math course grades

    Blog

    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....

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

    K12

    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.
  10. Florida Board of Education picks new chairwoman

    Blog

    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."...

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

    Blog

    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. ...

  12. Pasco sixth graders get more reading course options

    Blog

    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....

  13. Florida education news: Testing, teacher pay, new schools and more

    Blog

    TESTING: Hundreds of Florida student state math end-of-course exams are invalidated because of calculator misuse in schools. • The test results won't count after a state Department of Education announcement, though, the Palm Beach Post reports. Districts begin to review other ways to make year-end decisions about grades and promotions, the Miami Herald reports. More from the Panama City News Herald, Herald-Tribune....

  14. Hundreds of math exams invalidated as Florida hits another school testing snag: wrong calculators

    Testing

    Adding to the growing list of miscues for Florida's school-testing system, nearly 800 Pasco County students had their state math end-of-course exams invalidated Tuesday because proctors gave them the wrong calculators.

    The action affected every student who took the exams at Anclote High School. The same problem negated math test results for an unknown number of middle and high school students in at least 20 other counties across the state, including Pinellas....

    Hundreds of math exams have been invalidated as Florida hits another school testing snag: The wrong calculators were used.
  15. Pasco schools aim to add more on-site technology support

    Blog

    Plans are in the works to get more on-site technology support into Pasco County schools.

    Two years ago, superintendent Kurt Browning and the School Board imposed major changes that combined three jobs -- media, technology and literacy specialists -- into one. The goal was partly to save money, and partly to refocus the way technology and media are infused into instruction.

    In theory, the school's information communication technology coach would help teachers craft lessons. In reality, the daily work of keeping machines working in device-filled schools remained a high demand....