Access to high school physics in Florida: 32 public high schools with 1,000 or more students do not offer physics

Thirty-two Florida public high schools with 1,000 or more students are not teaching physics this school year, according to Fall 2017 enrollment data available from the Florida Department of Education web site.

Fourteen of the schools are located in four Central Florida school districts – Hernando, Lake, Pasco and Polk Counties.  Ironically, two other Central Florida districts – Brevard and Seminole Counties – are the state’s leaders in physics enrollment rate.

The high schools with 1,000 or more students that are not offering physics this year are listed below by school district:

Broward:  Henry D. Perry Educational Center

Clay:  Orange Park High School

DeSoto:  DeSoto County High School

Duval:  Englewood High School, Westside High School

Hardee:  Hardee Senior High School

Hernando:  Hernando High School, Frank W. Springstead High School, Nature Coast Technical High School

Highlands:  Avon Park High School

Lake:  Mr. Dora High School, Tavares High School, Lake Minneola High School

Lee:  Lehigh Senior High School, Estero High School

Manatee:  Bayshore High School

Marion:  North Marion High School, Lake Weir High School

Miami-Dade:  Miami Jackson High School, North Miami Beach Senior High School, Miami Southridge Senior High School

Palm Beach:  South Tech Academy, Palm Beach Lakes High School

Pasco:  Anclote High School, Fivay High School, Gulf High School, Hudson High School

Polk:  Auburndale High School, Mulberry High School, Lake Gibson High School, Lake Region High School

Putnam:  Palatka High School

The number of Florida public high schools having 1,000 or more students and not offering physics has grown from 24 in Fall 2015 to 32 in Fall 2017.  This is not the only indicator that physics is in decline in Florida’s high schools.  Physics enrollment in the state’s high schools has declined by 8% during the last three years. 

The lack of access to physics courses is often associated with high schools that have large populations of students from low income families.  Indeed – as shown below – many of the large Florida high schools that do not offer physics have free and reduced-price lunch eligibility rates that are higher than Florida’s statewide 63% rate.  However, several large schools with relatively affluent student populations do not offer physics.  As the chart below shows, that includes DeSoto County High School, Lake County’s Lake Minneola High School and Lee County’s Estero High School.

Physics is the gateway high school science course for bachelor’s-level STEM careers and should be taken by all college-bound high school students so that they have the option to choose majors in those fields once they arrive at college.



Map of Florida’s counties, from the web site of the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles

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