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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. ICYMI: Florida education news, week of Feb. 7, 2016


    The world of Florida education news got testy this past week. We had parents angry over the apparent death of a bill that would have mandated daily recess in elementary schools. We saw House and Senate members battle over budgets, taxes and construction funding. And 2015 school grades finally arrived to a collective shrug after groups spent months criticizing the system. Visit the Gradebook every day for the latest on these and other education stories....

  2. Two new principals named for Pasco County schools


    Two administrators with secondary level connections have been named to lead elementary schools in the Pasco County school district.

    Steve Williams, currently director of Teaching and Learning, will head up the district's newest elementary, located in Wesley Chapel. Williams was principal at Sunlake High School, as well as an assistant principal at River Ridge and Wiregrass Ranch high schools, before moving to the district office. He also was a special education teacher....

  3. Florida Board of Education to amend state math standards


    It's been a two years since Florida renamed and tweaked the Common Core into what leaders now consider the state's own academic standards.

    Since then, much of the attention has gone to the tests, their scoring and their use in things such as teacher evaluations and school grades....

  4. Florida's 2015 school grades are out; here's what you need to know


    Remember the first time Florida issued school grades? It was back in the late 1990s, and they came across as a novel way to quickly show whether a school was performing well or badly.

    The state based the A-through-F marks on simple performance, and handed out money to schools that had top results. The concept was so unusual to some that one Sarasota school tried to hand its check back to the Cabinet, suggesting the money would be put to better use helping a low-performing school....

  5. Florida 2015 school grades are now out


    Florida's long awaited 2015 school grades are now official.

    With little fanfare, the Department of Education published spreadsheets with the information early Friday morning. 

    Based on rules the State Board of Education adopted in January, they differ little from the simulated grades that the department released in December. (See an overview here)....

  6. Florida education news: Charter connections, budgets, bonuses and more


    CONNECTED: Rep. Erik Fresen, at the heart of a Florida House effort to shift school district construction funding to charter schools, has close ties to charter firm Academica. The Florida Senate proposes an alternative approach to Fresen's idea....

  7. Recess bill won't get Senate hearing, Education Committee chairman says


    Sorry, recess moms.

    The push to mandate 20 minutes of daily recess in Florida's elementary schools, which passed three House committees without opposition, won't be heard by the Senate Education Committee this session.

    "I am not going to put it on the agenda," committee chairman Sen. John Legg told the Gradebook. "It doesn't merit a Tallahassee solution."...

  8. Florida Senate acts on Pasco students' idea to remove Confederate general statue from U.S. Capitol


    On a school trip to Washington D.C., students from Pasco County's Dayspring Academy noticed that one of Florida's representative statues in the Capitol was of a Confederate general, Edmund Kirby Smith....

  9. Still waiting for Florida's 2015 school grades?


    The newest Florida school grading formula became official on Tuesday, and state education officials indicated that 2015 school grades based on the formula would follow soon after.

    Many people expected the results, which will look much like a simulation released in December, on Tuesday concurrent with the new rule taking effect....

  10. Florida students gain 30 minutes on state writing test


    When students take their computerized Florida Standards Assessments in writing later this month, they'll have a half hour longer to complete their work than they had a year ago.

    Last year, they had 90 minutes, with an optional 30 minutes to finish (if they knew about the optional extension). Now, everyone will get 120 minutes, with retakers allowed "up to half the length of a typical school day" for the exam. (The handwritten FCAT writing test was limited to two pages and 45 minutes.)...

  11. Florida education news: School grades, teacher evaluations, community schools and more


    PUBLIC INPUT: Pinellas district leaders ask for community views on what to do with Melrose Elementary School.

    AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAMS: Florida senators question a proposal to create a competitive grant program for after-care funding....

  12. Superintendent looking into testing criticism lodged by teachers


    A regular complaint during testing in Pasco County schools has been that teachers struggle to maintain their courses because students rotate in and out to take their exams.

    That criticism baffled superintendent Kurt Browning, who couldn't fathom why all students in a class would not be testing at the same time.

    Kids coming and going "certainly is going to be a problem for a teacher," Browning said....

  13. Florida House would make it harder for school districts to pass tax referenda


    While the Florida House Appropriations Committee made a show of its efforts to restrict school districts' construction spending, the chamber's Local and Federal Affairs Committee took quieter steps to make it harder for districts to win added revenue for building and capital projects....

  14. Attendance zone revision proposed for two Pasco County middle schools


    Attendance zone changes can prove messy affairs. Witness the parent outcry when faced with moving their children from Pasco's Seven Oaks Elementary to Denham Oaks Elementary, just a few months ago.

    There's little of that pushback, though, in the move to redraw the boundaries between Bayonet Point and Chasco middle schools....

  15. Florida education news: Charter schools, school grades, dress code and more


    SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION: The Florida House fast tracks a measure to curtail what it sees as overspending of school building projects amid district denials. The plan would shift more money to charter schools, the AP reports....