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. Federal court give partial go-ahead to Florida teacher lawsuit over merit pay, evaluations


    A federal judge has ruled that parts of a lawsuit challenging Florida's teacher evaluation and pay law (SB 736) may move forward, while dismissing other parts of the challenge to the three-year-old law.

    The lawsuit, filed by teachers in Hernando, Alachua and Escambia counties, questions the constitutionality of evaluating teachers using test results of children they did not instruct.

    In the ruling, Judge Mark E. Walker said the teachers' challenge of the law would be dismissed, but their challenge of the resulting policies could be heard:...

  2. Closing Pasco charter school calls emergency meeting


    The board of directors for Florida Autism Center of Excellence-Pasco has called an emergency meeting for Thursday evening.

    The session comes a week after the board voted to shut down the school, which opened in fall 2013, amid concerns over low enrollment and poor finances....

  3. FCAT testing resumes after computer glitches are fixed


    Florida schools returned to computerized FCAT testing on Wednesday after receiving word from the state that the systems were again running properly.

    Twenty-six districts reported problems with student access to the online exams on Tuesday, prompting the Florida Department of Education to recommend a delay in testing for affected schools.

    Education commissioner Pam Stewart blamed testing company Pearson for the troubles....

  4. Florida schools given okay to restart FCAT testing


    Server problems that hampered Florida's computerized FCAT testing on Tuesday appear to be resolved, as education commissioner Pam Stewart told superintendents early Wednesday they were cleared to resume the exam.

    In a memo sent just after 7 a.m., Stewart announced that overnight fixes had been put in place to avoid another day of slowdowns and delays for students taking their FCAT online. More than two dozen districts had to stop computerized testing on Tuesday because of problems with the servers run by test company Pearson....

  5. Florida education news: Charter schools, vouchers, testing and more


    IN THE LEGISLATURE: The Florida House passes a measure that would limit school district control over charter schools. • Senators revive a proposal to expand student vouchers, but stall an effort to give illegal immigrants in-state tuition. More on vouchers from Education Week....

  6. Florida education commissioner blasts Pearson, will seek damages


    Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart has fired off an angry letter to Pearson head of state services Walter Sherwood over the company's latest problems administering the FCAT exams.

    Stewart blamed the company for computer troubles that prompted school districts across the state to suspend testing, and criticized the firm for downplaying the situation as "frustrating" on its online status website....

  7. Headhunter firm contacts Pasco superintendent again


    For the second time in six months, the Iowa-based search firm Ray and Associates has reached out to Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning, asking him to consider a superintendency elsewhere.

    This time, the group has invited Browning to apply for the top job in the Jefferson County, Colorado, school system, just outside Denver. That district is slightly larger than Pasco, but pays its superintendent about double what Browning earns....

  8. Florida school districts suspend online FCAT after glitches


    Problems with Florida's annual FCAT test on Tuesday rekindled simmering concerns that the state isn't ready for its next steps toward full computerized testing.

    At least a dozen Florida school districts, including Pasco and Hernando, were forced to suspend online testing Tuesday as students had trouble signing in to take the annual exam. No problems were reported in Hillsborough or Pinellas counties....

    At least a dozen Florida school districts, including Pasco and Hernando, were forced to suspend online testing Tuesday as students had trouble signing in to take the annual exam. No problems were reported in Hillsborough or Pinellas counties.
  9. Pasco schools suspend FCAT testing amid computer problems


    The Pasco County school district has advised its schools to suspend FCAT testing Tuesday morning because of computer issues.

    "Kids are having troubles signing in," district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe explained, saying the issue is affecting fifth grade math, and seventh and ninth grade reading.

    In a memo to principals, accountability and measurement director Peggy Jones said other districts, including Leon, Seminole and Brevard appeared to be having similar difficulties. "We are not certain if this is Pearson-based (or) the Internet provider. We will continue to work on a resolution and will notify you."...

  10. Florida education news: In-state tuition, VAM scores, dog therapy and more


    POLITICAL MANEUVERS: State Sen. Jack Latvala offers amendments to four separate bills in an effort to keep alive the idea of in-state tuition for illegal immigrant residents. • A group of students lobbies Senate president Don Gaetz to let the tuition bill be heard, WFSU reports....

  11. Pasco student musician jams district elevator


    The Pasco County school district main office has undergone a face lift in recent weeks, receiving new flooring, lighting and a paint job. New student photos also have gone up, including on the lobby elevator doors.

    Mitchell High saxophonist Kyle Schroeder is featured on the door on the left. He found it so cool that he created a little elevator music to celebrate. Check it out below.


  12. Pasco eSchool seeks summer enrollments as graduation rules change


    Starting with next year's seniors, all Florida high school students will have to complete at least one online course to graduate.

    With new state funding rules in place, local school districts don't want to lose those students to Florida Virtual School.

    The Pasco County school district aims to meet both pieces of the puzzle, by contacting parents of students who have yet to meet the requirement and letting them know that Pasco eSchool is there for them....

  13. Florida education news: A-Plus plan, teen parents, fine arts and more


    TRANSPORTATION TURMOIL: Hillsborough's student transportation department continues to struggle with management problems and high-level departures.

    FALLOUT: A proposal to split the joint FSU-FAMU engineering department could cause political problems for Gov. Rick Scott....

  14. Clearwater nurse shot to death; boyfriend is charged


    CLEARWATER — A Clearwater woman was shot and killed by her boyfriend early Sunday morning during a birthday party at her home in the Countrypark subdivision, police said.

    Josephine Austria's boyfriend, Alexander Richardson of Clearwater, has been arrested in her death and charged with second-degree murder. Richardson, 24, was also charged with using a firearm while under the influence of alcohol, according to the Clearwater Police Department....

    Alexander Richardson, 24, is charged with second-degree murder in the Sunday shooting.
  15. Florida education news: Prom-posals, job cuts, computer testing and more


    PROM-POSALS: A St. Petersburg High junior perfects the art of inviting his date to the prom.

    STAFF CUTS: The Pinellas district plans to eliminate hundreds of positions that assist students with special needs....