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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. Florida education news: Testing, student uniforms, charter schools and more

    Blog

    TESTING: Florida's testing system faces a confidence crisis that leaders had hoped to avoid when moving away from the FCAT.

    GOING TO COLLEGE: Two Miami high schoolers develop a mobile app to help students apply for college, the Miami Herald reports....

  2. Latest glitches erode confidence in students' online testing

    Testing

    Florida faces a confidence crisis in its annual testing program.

    Last week, for the second time in two months, the computerized system crashed, the result of avoidable vendor errors. The upshot has been heightened challenges to Florida's 15-year-old accountability model.

    Parents and education advocates question whether the state pushed online testing before its time. They argue that the test's validity is damaged and are calling for the state to remove all consequences for students, teachers and schools if it won't pause testing altogether....

    Just last week, some students in Florida had issues logging in online to take the Florida Standards Assessments.
  3. Florida education news: Testing, homelessness, vouchers and more

    Blog

    CHOICE: Florida lawmakers are interfering with local control in offering families school choices they aren't even asking for, Times columnist John Romano writes.

    TESTING: School districts are trying to make sense of Florida's newest testing laws, often with differing results, the Orlando Sentinel reports. • Florida Gov. Rick Scott should allow school districts to use alternatives to the Florida Standards Assessments until the technology works, the Orlando Sentinel editorializes....

  4. Florida education news: Budgets, for-profit colleges, end-of-course exams and more

    Blog

    INFIGHTING: A Republican feud over budget negotiations grinds the Florida legislative session to a halt.

    FOR-PROFIT: For-profit DeVry University will shut down its Tampa locations by December. • The Miami Herald investigates how for-profit colleges came to thrive in Florida....

  5. Tampa area school districts pondering next moves on local testing

    Blog

    In the wake of Miami-Dade's decision to eliminate most local end-of-course exams, Tampa area parents have begun asking whether their districts will follow suit.

    Short answer: They're exploring the options.

    Pinellas superintendent Mike Grego said he does not consider all tests bad, and noted that teachers worked hard to develop the EOCs that the students would start taking soon. He wanted to meet with teachers and other interested parties to assess whether the district has too many exams and what to do next....

  6. Pinellas relief bus driver named Florida's school-related employee of the year

    Blog

    Cheryl A. Thomas, a relief bus driver and training assistant with Pinellas County Schools, was honored Friday in Orlando as Florida’s 2015 School-Related Employee of the Year. Thomas was selected from among five statewide finalists.

    “Every school employee is important in creating an environment that encourages student learning,” education commissioner Pam Stewart said. “I am pleased to honor Ms. Thomas for her extraordinary commitment to her students and community. I know she has made a lasting impact on the families of Pinellas County.”  ...

  7. One-time Pasco assistant principal recommended for return to administration

    Blog

    Fivay High School graduation enhancement teacher Erin Galletta is being recommended to become an assistant principal at her Pasco County school.

    Her proposed promotion is raising hackles in the school and surrounding community, School Board chairman Steve Luikart said, because of Galletta's past. In 2011, Galletta was removed from her post as Sunlake High School assistant principal, and not recommended for a new administrative contract, because she violated district policy in changing a student's grades....

  8. Florida education news: Principals, tests, school choice and more

    Blog

    HOT SEAT: Another Pasco Zephyrhills High principal runs into trouble leading the school. • The longtime principal of Pinellas Curlew Elementary abruptly resigns without explanation....

  9. No Opportunity Scholarships for Florida students next year

    Blog

    Florida's Opportunity Scholarship program hasn't been the state's most popular school choice option in recent years.

    Shrunk from its original vision, the system allows students attending a public school that has earned an F or three consecutive D's to move to higher performing public schools, with transportation provided. Last year, 3,588 students took advantage....

  10. Florida school districts begin slashing local end-of-course exams

    Blog

    Throughout the spring, some Florida school districts started eliminating some of their local end-of-course exams in response to criticisms that children are over-tested.

    Newly adopted state law paved the way for additional cuts. And districts are starting to jump on board....

  11. Pasco school district, union near settlement on grievance over board agendas

    Blog

    The United School Employees of Pasco won't be getting a paper copy of School Board agendas for now, just as superintendent Kurt Browning has directed.

    The union will, however, get special access to the district's computerized agenda system so its leaders can make notes on the document -- just like they did when they got the paper version.

    That's the deal the USEP and district tentatively worked out Wednesday during a one-hour hearing over the union's complaint about losing access to the printed file, district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said....

  12. Principal and Zephyrhills High both have histories of issues with leadership

    K12

    ZEPHYRHILLS — Once again, a Zephyrhills High School principal is on the hot seat.

    Andy Frelick is the latest in a string of Zephyrhills High leaders to capture attention for the wrong reasons.

    His short-lived decision in March to have administrators escort students to restroom breaks caused parents to cry foul, prompting superintendent Kurt Browning to reassess the school's operations....

    Zephyrhills High School where principal Andy Frelick is on the hotseat. [Eric Glasser | WTSP]
  13. Florida education news: Sales tax, high school sports, ballroom dance and more

    Blog

    MORE MONEY: The Hernando School Board will ask voters to approve a half-cent sales tax to support school construction and capital projects.

    HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS: The Florida House moves a bill to overhaul the oversight of high school athletics, the AP reports. More from the Stuart News....

  14. Are you opting out of Florida testing?

    Blog

    Or are you minimally participating?

    An interesting transformation is taking place in the Florida opt-out world, where according to law the the powers that be "opting out" does not really exist.

    A growing number of parents are using the phrase "minimally participating" to describe what their kids are doing -- entering the testing room, signing in and pushing it away. Florida law requires public school students to participate....

  15. There's more to be said about TNTP's Pasco schools study

    Blog

    There's a mini ed reform storm swirling in the Pasco County school district, as two prominent groups pushing differing teacher evaluation models take shots at one another.

    Briefly, TNTP (founded by Michelle Rhee) issued a report (funded by the Gates Foundation) blasting Pasco's teacher hiring, training and evaluation system, created by the Marzano Center....