While teacher shortages have made headlines in the past year, a look at results of the Florida Teacher Certification Exams for the years 2013-2016 show that at least at the high school level the sharpest declines in the supply of new teachers are occurring in two subjects – math and physics.
The plots below show the number of first-time examinees who passed the exams during 2013-2016. The first plot shows the numbers of examinees passing the exams for Art, Physical Education and Social Sciences. The numbers are fairly steady in all three subjects, although there is a slight decline in Social Sciences.
The second plot shows STEM subjects in which the numbers of teachers are fairly high – Biology, Earth/Space Science and Math 6-12. Teachers certified in Math 6-12 can teach any high school math course. Teachers with another math certification, Math 5-9, are limited to teaching Algebra 1, Geometry and other low-level courses. The supply of new Biology and Earth/Space Science teachers has been fairly steady. However, the number of exam passers in Math 6-12 dropped dramatically from 2013 to 2016.
The third plot shows Chemistry and Physics – STEM subjects in which fewer teachers become certified. The supply of new Chemistry teachers has declined gently. But the story in Physics is quite different. First, the number of new Physics teachers has been low throughout the 2013-2016 period. Second, the number has dropped significantly in the last few years.
I did not include English in this analysis because the certification exam format changed for that subject in 2015.
Data were taken from the (always amazing) Florida Department of Education website.