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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. Pasco School Board stalls on question of unexcused absences


    The Pasco School Board came no closer Tuesday to resolving the question of whether students should be able to make up work missed during an unexcused absence, even after close to two hours of discussion.

    Board members got hung up on the issue of how to establish a rule that would give schools flexibility to deal with individual student circumstances, while at the same time maintaining consistency across the district....

  2. Testing debate focuses on Florida accountability model


    How important is testing to academic improvement? It's a question that the New York Times let Patricia Levesque of the Foundation for Excellence in Education and Kevin Welner of the National Education Policy Center debate on its pages.

    Not surprisingly, given Florida's large role in promoting test-based accountability (and Levesque's part in that effort), the Sunshine State features prominently in the discussion....

  3. Florida Legislature leaves building blocks for future education proposals


    The Florida Legislature's abrupt sine die last week left several education-related bills languishing. Perhaps most surprising to die was a measure to scale back class size penalties, an idea that sailed through both chambers and was set for a final Senate vote that never came....

  4. Florida education news: Background checks, attendance zones, turnarounds and more


    BACKGROUND CHECKS: Florida teachers who have committed minor crimes are not automatically disqualified from holding their jobs, WKMG 6 reports.

    TESTING: Twenty Marion students have their algebra end-of-course exams invalidated after a proctor leaves calculators out at their testing stations, the Ocala Star-Banner reports. • The Lake school district drops its local end-of-course tests, the Orlando Sentinel reports. • Florida lawmakers took some positive steps to alleviate testing demands, and school districts deserve credit for taking advantage, the Bradenton Herald editorializes....

  5. Sen. John Legg objects to resolution honoring outgoing FEA president Andy Ford


    Sen. John Legg, R-Trinity, released a letter Monday in which he asked the Senate secretary to officially record his opposition to a resolution honoring outgoing Florida Education Association president Andy Ford and his contributions to public education.

    Legg took particular umbrage to the statement that Ford "focused his efforts on high-quality public schools for every student, dignity and justice for all workers, equal opportunities regardless of race or gender, and furthering of education as a means for individuals to achieve the great American dream."...

  6. Using Florida as a key example, John Oliver sums up the fight against testing


    This clip on standardized testing from John Oliver's Last Week Tonight would be funny if it weren't what so many parents and educators fight daily. Not surprisingly, Florida appears prominently in the discussion.

    Just watch.

  7. Pasco school district proposes expanded sharing of employee sick leave


    Pasco County schools have experienced their share of watching employees struggle through extended illness without enough sick leave to see them through.

    The Florida Legislature made it easier to transfer accumulated sick days from one staffer to another in 2012. This year the Pasco district administration is proposing another step to allow its workers to support ailing colleagues....

  8. Florida education news: Budgets, career academies, credits and more


    BUDGETING: Without a state budget, Florida school district leaders find it difficult to prepare their spending plans for the coming fiscal year.

    WORK READY: Florida high schools expand career academy options, Pensacola Today reports....

  9. Legislative stalemate puts Florida school districts in a budgeting bind


    The early end to this year's legislative session, without an approved budget, has put Florida school district leaders on edge.

    Even in normal circumstances, school boards often struggle to craft spending plans largely dictated by state funding formulas. This year, they face the task without any hard numbers as a starting point.

    "It's exceedingly difficult," Pinellas school superintendent Mike Grego said. "We're not a for-profit company with excess reserves" to rely upon....

    Pasco superin?tendent Kurt Browning said school districts “can’t spend money we don’t have.”
  10. Florida education news: Shakeup, tossed out, safe passage and more


    TOP JOBS: A shakeup of Hernando district administrators takes many by surprise.

    TESTING: The Monroe School Board considers ending all local end-of-course exams, the Keynoter reports....

  11. Florida education news: Illegal adjournment, reading lessons, school nurses and more


    UNCONSTITUTIONAL: The Florida Supreme Court finds the state House violated the Constitution in adjourning early, but also that it was too late to force them back.

    TESTING: The Brevard school district reduces its local end-of-course exams, Florida Today reports. • Santa Rosa and Escambia schools also cut their local testing, the Pensacola News Journal reports. • Opt-Out Orlando urges parents to have their children not take Orange County's K-2 tests, the Orlando Sentinel reports....

  12. Florida education department clarifies rules on student retention, teacher evaluations


    The passage of HB 7069 into law changed the rules for evaluating Florida students and teachers. Exactly how has been the subject of much debate.

    There's been a healthy back and forth, for instance, over whether the Legislature's action gave school districts more flexibility on retaining third graders who score at the lowest levels of the state reading test.

    Here's what we recently wrote, suggesting that schools hold the final decision. The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition, for one, took issue, saying we got it wrong....

  13. Pasco teacher subject of testing opt-out investigation


    The Pasco school district has launched an investigation into a Mitchell High School math teacher who reportedly encouraged students to opt out of their Algebra II end-of-course exam.

    The state-mandated exam counts as 30 percent of a student's course grade....

  14. Florida education news: Legislative stalemate, testing, condoms and more


    WHAT'S NEXT? Florida lawmakers and the governor can't agree how to proceed in the Legislature's stalemate.

    TESTING: The Pasco school district drops all its local end-of-course exams. • Polk schools will keep most of their tests in place, the Ledger reports....

  15. Add Highlands County to the school districts cutting their local tests


    For those of you keeping track, the Highlands County school district suspended its local end-of-course exams on Thursday along with Pasco County. They joined a growing list that includes Pinellas, Miami-Dade, Leon, Broward, Charlotte, Manatee, Lee and Walton counties....