Demographics don’t determine enrollments in STEM pipeline courses in high schools. If the graph of district-level math and science scores from last week’s Orlando Sentinel rankings against free and reduced price lunch rates didn’t convince you, here is a school-level look, courtesy of Connor Oswald (yet again).
There is a minimal correlation between Sentinel score and the percentage of students eligible for free and reduced price lunches, but it certainly isn’t deterministic. Compare Orlando’s Edgewater High School and Volusia County’s Atlantic High School. Edgewater has a free and reduced lunch rate of 59% – right near the state rate – yet earned a Sentinel score of 73.4. In contrast, Atlantic High has a free and reduced lunch rate of 55%, but a Sentinel score of 22.9 – a factor of three lower.
It really is more about the priorities of school and district leaders than it is about demographics.