Florida’s K-12 system hasn’t gotten the memo about the importance of high school physics, but maybe your district has. Take a look here.

Florida’s high school physics enrollment rate remains stuck at at 23 enrollments per 100 12th graders, about where it’s been since I started paying attention in 2009.  Given the rhetorical emphasis on STEM careers from Florida’s education and political leaders, that’s an extraordinary statistic.

Florida remains far behind the nation in high school physics course-taking.  The national physics course-taking rate as reported by the American Institute of Physics is 39%.  The enrollment rate reported here is not identical to the course-taking rate because the students who take two physics courses in high school push the enrollment rate higher.  So Florida’s physics course enrollment rate should be considered an upper limit on the physics course-taking rate – the course-taking rate is actually a bit lower than 23% (and therefore farther behind the national course-taking rate than it initially appears).

But several districts are outstanding in high school physics, as the reader can see in the plot below for Spring 2016.  (As always, the numbers used to calculate the enrollment rates come from the best-in-the-nation FLDOE web site)

Brevard and Seminole Counties are outstanding by any standard.  Physics is an important part of the high school culture in those districts.

Then there is rural Franklin County, a newcomer to the top of the ranking.  Franklin had 45 students enrolled in a regular Physics 1 course last spring.  They also had 67 12th graders.  For this, Franklin County earns an Official Bridge to Tomorrow “Woot!”

Leon County is the only remaining district with an enrollment rate that exceeds the national course-taking rate, although the district had about 100 fewer physics students in Sprng 2016 than it did in Spring 2015.

Even affluent St. Johns County – Florida’s only truly affluent school district – is well below the national rate.


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