When it was revealed last summer that the grading scale for the new AP Physics 1 exam would result in a pass rate of only 37% and only 4.1% of exams earning a grade of 5, Florida teachers I spoke with were justifiably concerned that the enrollment in the course this year would be considerably smaller than last year.
This fall’s enrollment numbers are in, and it turns out that in Florida at least there was nothing to worry about. Last fall, enrollment numbers provided by the Florida Department of Education showed that 7,735 students were registered in AP Physics 1 courses. This fall, the numbers provided by the FLDOE for AP Physics 1 courses add up to 7,635. It’s important to note that this year’s FLDOE results exclude those schools where 10 or fewer students took AP Physics 1 to address privacy concerns. Last year’s numbers did not exclude high schools with small enrollment numbers, so this year’s result is not completely comparable to last year’s. This year’s true enrollment number is a bit higher than the 7,635 I am reporting here, and it’s likely that the apparent small decline did not actually occur. However, we can safely conclude that there was not significant growth in AP Physics 1 enrollments in Florida this fall.
Enrollment in AP Physics 2 is still small, rising from 576 last fall to 885 this fall.
Honors Physics 1 is still the largest physics course in Florida, enrolling 21,646 students this fall, compared to 23,716 last year. While AP Physics 1 was designed to replace Honors Physics, the significant decline in Honors Physics enrollments is not coupled to an increase in AP Physics 1 and so it may signal a retreat in overall high school physics enrollments in Florida.