Leslie Postal at School Zone posted statewide enrollment numbers for high school math and science courses on Friday.
One statistic that leaps out of her spreadsheet: The physics-taking rate among high school grads at Florida’s public high schools is declining.
In the 2004-2005 school year, 24.46% of Florida high school grads had taken Honors Physics, or the non-honors physics course, or the AICE or IB equivalent. By 2008-2009, the physics course-taking rate had dropped to 22.83%.
Both of these rates are below the national physics-taking rate of 28% determined by the American Institute of Physics in 2005.
That is a danger signal for a state that, according to the Florida Council of 100 report Closing the Talent Gap, faces an enormous shortage of scientists and engineers.
SB 4 will not correct this problem, since in most school districts students are required to take chemistry before they take physics. Students who are not predisposed to take physics will take chemistry – satisfying the new graduation requirement – and then stop.
Super Science Counties Brevard and Polk have already corrected this problem, but elsewhere the decline is likely to continue until additional steps are taken.