My conversations during the last few months with administrators and department heads responsible for hiring high school teachers in math, chemistry and physics has given me an entirely different picture. Recruiters are increasingly willing to try new strategies, like visiting the FSU Physics Department and talking with our students directly.
One recruiter suggested that the 9% decline in chemistry enrollments in Florida’s public high schools during the last two years might have been caused by the shortage of chemistry teachers. Physics enrollments have dropped as well – by 8% over the last three years. It’s possible that the physics teacher shortage is responsible for that as well.
While it’s true that the numbers of individuals holding certifications in math and science areas have been growing, it’s likely that many of those certificate holders have left the teaching profession. A truer picture of the availability of teachers to fill vacancies in math and science is probably given by the numbers of individuals taking and passing the state’s certification tests in those subjects for the first time. As you can see below, those numbers have been declining at least since 2013 (we don’t have numbers for prior years).
Just to be clear: The shortage of teachers in math and science subjects is desperate in Florida, and is becoming more so.