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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 in review, week of May 21, 2017


    School's out. Graduation day is here. It's time for summer break. And yet, Florida's education news persists. It's about overcoming the achievement gap, the role of charter schools and the need for more dual-language teachers.

    You can keep up with our conversation on Facebook, hear our podcast, and follow our blog to get all the latest Florida education news. All tips, comments and ideas welcome. Know anyone else who'd like to get this weekly roundup or other email updates? Have them send a note to

  2. Gradebook podcast: Budgets, pre-k, achievement gap and more


    As classes let out across Florida, school district leaders continue to analyze how they're going to balance their budgets given the constraints proposed by state lawmakers.  Reporter Jeff Solochek and editor Tom Tobin discuss the concerns district finance officials are raising as they look at the budget while waiting for it to arrive at the governor's desk. They also talk about Florida's ranking in a new national study on prekindergarten programs, and the Pinellas County school district's latest plan to eliminate the achievement gap among students of different races....

  3. District finals won't count for Pasco County students


    Scores from the district finals Pasco County students took in recent weeks will not count toward their semester grades or grade-point averages, superintendent Kurt Browning said Friday.

    "After hearing from a number of teachers and parents who are concerned with the outcomes, we need to step back and take a look at the results across the district and review the tests that were offered," district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe explained....

  4. Florida education news: Sales tax, school buses, a Civil War prop and more


    BACK-TO-SCHOOL: Gov. Rick Scott authorizes a three-day sales tax holiday for back-to-school shopping.

    TESTING: Two Tampa private school students earn perfect ACT scores....

  5. Gov. Scott approves three-day back-to-school sales tax holiday


    For the second straight year, Gov. Rick Scott has approved a three-day sales tax holiday for back-to-school shoppers.

    Scott signed the legislation (HB 7109), which included several other tax breaks, into law on Thursday.

    The school shopping tax holiday is set for Aug. 4-6. It applies to clothing, school supplies, personal computers, and personal computer-related accessories. The tax exemptions do not apply to sales within a theme park or entertainment complex....

  6. International Baccalaureate program to expand in central Pasco schools


    Pine View Elementary School in Land O'Lakes has won approval to become a Primary Years International Baccalaureate school, extending the rigorous program down to the K-5 level in the central Pasco County feeder pattern leading to Land O'Lakes High.

    The elementary will be an official candidate school in 2017-18....

  7. Florida education news: Prekindergarten, charter schools, online education and more


    EARLY EDUCATION: Florida's Voluntary Prekindergarten program continues to get high marks for access but low ratings for quality and funding in the National Institute for Early Education Research's annual review.

    #HB7069: The feedback to Gov. Rick Scott on the controversial HB 7069 is breaking even now that school choice supporters have begun a more aggressive push in support of the measure.  • Parents seeking continued growth of the Gardiner Scholarship for students with special needs back the program, which was woven into the bill, the Associated Press reports....

  8. School choice contributes to increasing segregation of Florida, southern U.S. schools, researchers say


    A new report from the Civil Rights Project at UCLA says that schools in Florida and the rest of the south are slipping back into segregation of black and Hispanic students, with school choice playing a role....

  9. Florida prekindergarten access among nation's best, but funding among worst


    When Florida began its voluntary prekindergarten program, the criticisms began that it aimed to serve many youngsters but with little quality.

    It's been 15 years since voters put the system in place, and the reviews have yet to change.

    In a report released Wednesday, the National Institute for Early Education Research found Florida second of 44 pre-k programs nationally when it comes to service, but 40th in terms of per-student funding, and meeting just three of 10 quality measures....

  10. Florida education news: Achievement gap, testing, bilingual teachers and more


    ACHIEVEMENT GAP: The Pinellas County School Board approves a plan to improve the education of black students in the district.

    TESTING: Just 10 percent of Florida twelfth graders pass their retake of the state exit-level language arts test....

  11. More leaders weigh in on HB 7069


    No, Gov. Rick Scott has not yet received HB 7069, the massive education conforming bill, or the education budget it's attached to.

    That's giving everyone more time to continue offering their views on what he might do with the measures when they come to him for consideration.

    The Central Florida Public School Boards Coalition, a group of 13 school districts, sent Scott a letter joining many others asking him to veto HB 7069, which includes provisions ranging from expansion of Gardiner scholarships for disabled children to the creation of a new set of charter schools....

    Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam speaks with Gov. Rick Scott
  12. Pasco County teachers should not be surprised by district finals, superintendent says


    Pasco County teachers and parents continue to raise complaints about the school district's local final exams in several courses.

    They're suggesting the passing rates are way too low, and the scores count for too much on a student's report card....

    Pasco County superintendent Kurt Browning
  13. 10 percent of Florida seniors retaking state reading test pass


    As seniors across Florida walk across the stage and collect their diplomas, a small number of their classmates have learned they didn't meet one of the meet one of the state's testing requirements to graduate.

    Without fanfare, the Florida Department of Education informed school districts on Friday that 90 percent of twelfth graders retaking the language arts Florida Standards Assessment did not earn a passing score. Students must pass the 10th grade test, or earn a concordant score on an alternate test, to qualify for a diploma....

  14. Workshop set to discuss teacher concerns with end-of-year exams


    In the final days of classes, Pasco County students took district-designed course finals, tests that exist primarily because state law requires data to help evaluate teacher effectiveness.

    As they trickle in, the results haven't been pretty. Similar to first-semester district finals, the exams are bringing in average scores in the 60s and lower, according to teachers who have seen the information....

  15. Florida education news: Budgets, principals, vouchers and more


    VETO TIME? Gov. Rick Scott weighs advice on whether to reject the Legislature's education budget. • Pasco County school officials make spending adjustments in anticipation of a budget they say will have a "chilling effect" on schools. • Broward County teachers urge Scott to veto the Legislature education conforming bill HB 7069, the Sun-Sentinel reports....

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott is pondering his options with the state's education budget.