The decline of high school physics in Florida: Number of public high schools with more than 1,000 students not offering physics grows to 36 in Fall 2018

The number of medium and large public high schools (greater than 1,000 students) in Florida that do not offer physics grew to 36 in the Fall of 2018 from 31 the year before.

Physics is recommended by the American Society for Engineering Education for high school students who might major in engineering in college. College majors in physical sciences like chemistry and meteorology and the health and life sciences require physics as well.

The number of Florida high schools lacking physics is growing at the same time that physics enrollments are dropping. The number of students in the state’s public high schools who take physics has dropped 12% in the last four years.

Three districts that are on the Gulf coast north of the Tampa Bay area – Pasco, Hernando and Citrus – together have eight of the state’s medium and large public high schools that don’t offer physics. Pasco has four (Anclote High School, Fivay High School, Gulf High School and Hudson High School), Hernando has three (Hernando High School, Springstead High School and Nature Coast Technical School), and Citrus has one (Crystal River High School).

In Pinellas County, Dunedin High School is not offering physics.

Lake and Polk Counties, which are located between the Tampa Bay area and Orlando, together have five medium and large high schools that do not offer physics. Lake has three (Mt. Dora High School, Tavares High School and Lake Minneola High School). In fact, district-wide Lake County had only 100 students enrolled in physics in the fall, down from 331 three years before. Polk County has two high schools without physics (Auburndale High School and Tenoroc High School), but that is an improvement from four schools a year ago. Furthermore, three of the four Polk high schools that did not offer physics in Fall of 2017 had students enrolled in physics in the Fall of 2018 (Mulberry High School, Lake Gibson High School, Lake Region High School).

The data used here came from the Florida Department of Education web site. The Physics enrollment numbers are those for Fall 2018. The school membership numbers – used to determine which schools have 1,000 or more students – are those for Fall 2017.

A complete list of the 36 schools is given here, sorted by school district:

Broward: Hollywood Hills High School, Coconut Creek High School

Citrus: Crystal River High School

Clay: Middleburg High School

DeSoto: DeSoto County High School

Duval: Ribault High School, Westside High School, White High School

Hardee: Hardee Senior High School

Hernando: Hernando High School, Springstead High School, Nature Coast Technical High School

Highlands: Avon Park High School

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

Lee: Lehigh Senior High School, Estero High School, Island Coast 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, Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School

Nassau: West Nassau County High School

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

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

Pinellas: Dunedin High School

Polk: Auburndale High School, Tenoroc High School

Putnam: Palatka High School

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