Florida high school physics enrollments continue sharp decline, while chemistry enrollments level off from recent drops.

Physics enrollments in Florida’s public high schools continued to decline in the Fall of 2019, reaching a level 16.3% lower than five years ago, in the Fall of 2014.

In contrast, chemistry enrollments leveled off after three years of sharp declines.

Bridge to Tomorrow analyzed course enrollment data posted earlier this week by the Florida Department of Education. The FLDOE posts this data twice a year – once for fall semester enrollments and once for the spring semester enrollments.

In the Spring of 2019, FLDOE added dual enrollments to its course enrollment spreadsheets, and the department continued to do so for Fall 2019.

The 16.3% decline for physics enrollments quoted above does not include dual enrollments. However, in physics the number of dual enrollments in Fall 2019 was small – 553. The number of non-dual enrollment high school physics enrollments in Fall 2019 was 40,203 (vs. 48,034 in Fall 2014).

The plot of high school physics enrollments since Fall 2014 shown below includes the Fall 2019 dual enrollments in red – seen only as a small sliver.

As can be seen below in the plot of enrollment in the individual Honors Physics 1, non-Honors Physics 1 and AP Physics 1 courses, enrollment in the non-Honors Physics 1 course is collapsing quickly. Declines in Honors Physics 1 and AP Physics 1 are less precipitous.

Enrollments in non-dual enrollment chemistry courses increased a bit in Fall 2019 over Fall 2018 (138,711 in Fall 2019 vs. 137,641 in Fall 2018). However, the Fall 2019 enrollment level is still far below its Fall 2015 peak of 160,141. There were 2,448 dual enrollments in chemistry in Fall 2019, shown in red in the figure below.

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