Which districts are best in 2018-19 at preparing their students for college STEM majors? Seminole and Brevard Counties (again).

Seminole and Brevard Counties once again lead the State of Florida in preparing students for college majors in fields like engineering, the physical sciences, computing, and life and health sciences, according to this blog’s annual analysis of fall course enrollment data posted by the Florida Department of Education.

For each of the state’s school districts and for each of four subjects – calculus, chemistry, physics and precalculus – an enrollment rate is calculated by dividing the number of student enrollments in the subject (summed over grades 9-12) by the number of 12th graders. Dual enrollments are not included in the analysis because they are not included in the FLDOE’s compilation. The four subjects are selected because they are included in the high school course recommendation of the American Society for Engineering Education.

The ranking of districts for each of the four subjects is shown below, as is the “STEM Career Prep Index”, which is the sum of the enrollment rates of the four subjects and which is designed to provide a measurement of how well individual districts are preparing their high school students for college STEM majors.

Seminole and Brevard – both in Central Florida – are the STEM superpowers that have led the STEM Career Prep Index since its inception. Their leadership continues, with Seminole edging out Brevard because of the former district’s high enrollment rate in calculus.

Notably, Monroe County surged from 8th place in the STEM Career Prep Index in fall 2017 to 4th in the present ranking (fall 2018) despite the devastation caused in parts of the island chain by Hurricane Irma in September of 2017. In particular, Monroe is now 3rd in the state in physics enrollment rate, behind only Brevard and Seminole.

Another hurricane-impacted district (Bay County – Hurricane Michael in October 2018) jumped to 5th place in physics enrollment rate in fall 2018. The statistics used were from before the hurricane affected the district. However, it’s worth noting that Bay jumped from 107 high school physics enrollments in the fall of 2015 to 565 in fall of 2018.

Lake County is on the other side of the coin. Physics enrollments in the district, which is about twice Bay’s size, fell to 100 in the fall of 2018 from 331 in the fall of 2015. Lake also has a chemistry enrollment rate in the lower half of the ranking for that subject.

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