New data on Fall 2017 class enrollments supplied by the Florida Department of Education reveal that physics enrollments in Florida’s district high schools continued to decline for a third consecutive year. This fall, enrollments were 3% lower than a year ago, and they are now 8% lower than they were in Fall 2014.
The FLDOE says the enrollment numbers are preliminary and subject to updating.
The enrollment numbers include traditional district high schools, charter high schools, and district-affiliated virtual schools. The numbers do not include dual enrollment, which FLDOE no longer reports.
Physics is the gateway high school science course for college majors such as engineering, computer science, chemistry and physics. College majors in life and health sciences require physics, and students are significantly more likely to perform well in college physics if they take a physics course in high school.
A survey of state departments of education (plus DC) performed in the summer of 2015 showed that Florida was already in the lower tier of states for physics enrollment rate.
Much of the decline in total physics enrollment over the last three years came from the sharp downward trend in enrollments in the non-Honors Physics 1 course. Enrollments in AP Physics 1, which was designed to replace the traditional Honors Physics 1 course, continue to be disappointingly low.
For the 2017-18 school year, the Florida State Board of Education removed “Physical Science”, which includes both chemistry and physics, from the list of Critical Teacher Shortage Areas.