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ERIC Number: ED518393
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Mar
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
Under-Represented Minorities in High School Physics: Results from the 2008-09 Nationwide Survey of High School Physics Teachers. Focus On
White, Susan; Tesfaye, Casey Langer
Statistical Research Center of the American Institute of Physics
In the fall of 2008, the authors contacted a representative sample of over 3,600 high schools in the U.S., both public and private, to determine whether or not physics was taught there. They received responses from over 99% of the schools. For the schools which indicated they were offering physics, they obtained contact information for the teachers. In the spring of 2009, they contacted each of the teachers who were thought to be teaching physics. The authors received responses from over 2,500 teachers (a 62% response rate). The authors' findings are based on their responses. Findings revealed that not only do fewer students take physics at the "worse off" schools, but the types of physics courses students take also differs by socioeconomic profile. As seen in Figure 4, about 10% of the students taking physics at "worse off" schools take AP (Advanced Placement) and second-year physics; almost 20% of the students at "better off" schools take these courses. From the authors' data, they do not know why these differences exist--they only know that they do exist. The data presented in this report suggests that the differences are driven, in part, by underlying socioeconomic factors. Other factors, such as the availability of additional seats in physics classes and the ability of teachers to attract students to physics, also impact physics taking. It is unlikely that the racial and ethnic differences in physics taking in high school will decrease unless the underlying factors are addressed. (Contains 1 table and 4 figures.)
Statistical Research Center of the American Institute of Physics. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3067; Fax: 301-209-0843; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: American Institute of Physics, Statistical Research Center