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State education leaders to huddle in Clearwater

Education leaders from across the state will meet in Clearwater next week to sort out some pressing issues.

Expect discussions on school grades, teacher pay, the new Common Core curriculum standards and the assessments that will test the benchmarks.

The meeting, scheduled to run Monday through Wednesday, will cap off a turbulent summer for state education officials.

In June, superintendents convinced the state Board of Education to approve a "safety net" to prevent school grades from plunging. The debate sparked questions about the validity of the school accountability system -- and prompted some parent groups to call for a moratorium on school grades. 

Weeks later, state Education Commissioner Tony Bennett resigned after reports surfaced that he had changed the school grading formula in Indiana to benefit a charter school run by an influential Republican Party donor. Pam Stewart was named Florida's interim education commissioner.

Meanwhile, Tea Party groups and libertarians stepped up their campaign against the new Common Core curriculum standards.

State education officials are holding firm on the national benchmarks. But Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford want Florida to withdraw from the consortium crafting the new national assessments that will accompany the Common Core standards. Instead, Gaetz and Weatherford are advocating for a state-specific testing plan.

What state education officials will do next remains up in the air. They'll seek some guidance from superintendents, principals, union leaders, parent groups and the business community next week.