The Year 2015 in numbers for Florida and beyond

26%:  The percentage of Florida 8th graders proficient in math, according to the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress.  That percentage is far lower than the 31% that was measured in 2013.  The 2015 national rate is 33%.  So far, no one in a position of leadership has done anything about this, nor even acknowledged that it is a problem.

2.3%:  The percentage of American bachelors’ degrees in physics earned by black students in 2013, according to a recent American Institute of Physics report.  Of the 6,725 bachelors’ degrees awarded in physics in the US in 2013, only 153 were earned by black students.  The situation is somewhat better (though far short of acceptable) in engineering, in which 5.0% of bachelors’ degrees earned in 2013 were awarded to black students (that’s 5,074 out of a total of 100,500).  At Florida State University System institutions, 6.9% of bachelors’ degrees awarded in engineering in 2013-14 were awarded to black students.

0:  The number of students who are taking physics at Orlando’s Jones High School this year, as well as during the previous two years.  Jones is an historically black high school that recently moved into a new facility.  It is the only traditional Orange County high school that doesn’t offer physics.  The Orlando Sentinel published an article about the lack of physics at the school this week, as well as a strongly-worded editorial.  The Sentinel pointed out that other high schools with similar student demographics are successful in enrolling large numbers of students in physics.  Godby High School and its charismatic teacher Zondra Clayton were cited by the Sentinel.  Godby has 175 physics students this year.

25.5%:  Florida’s 2014-15 physics course enrollment rate – the number of high school students taking physics divided by the number of 12th graders.  That number is less than half the 2014-15 rate for Georgia, which was 52.2%.  That’s right – Georgia.  By the way, the national physics-taking rate is 39%, according to an American Institute of Physics report.

5,200:  The number of Florida teachers that qualified for awards from the Florida Best and Brightest Teacher Scholarship Program.  The $44 million program awards bonuses to teachers who earned high ACT or SAT scores themselves when they were in high school (or whenever they earned their scores) and who earned ratings of “highly effective” for the most recent school year for which ratings were available (unless they are first-year teachers, and then no rating is required).  The Florida Education Association is suing to stop the program, which they argue is discriminatory against older teachers (who would have trouble accessing their scores) and against minority teachers (since scores earned by black and Hispanic populations on the ACT and SAT are lower than those earned by white students).  If the program survives the legal challenge, each awardee will receive about $8,400.

79%:  The percentage of 2015 Florida high school graduates who had taken the ACT.  So why do we need separate state high school tests in Florida?  Just use the ACT!  That way, parents will really understand where their students stand with respect to their competition at the national level.  Isn’t that what we want?

17:  Of the top 25 college majors for salary, the number that are engineering disciplines.  Physics is also in the top 25.  The top 25 is taken from a report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

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