Florida Wants Extra Science Academics, As Training Company Reveals Shortfalls In Three Main Science Topics

July 13, 2021

School districts could struggle to find science teachers in the coming year, a report by the Education Department shows.

Three different science areas for K-12 education have been identified as areas of “critical teacher shortage” for the 2021-22 school year, the report said. That means Florida is in dire need of general science teachers, physics teachers, and earth and space science teachers.

In fact, general sciences ranked first out of nine areas that are expected to face critical teacher shortages in the next academic year. Physical science took third place on the rankings, while earth and space took seventh place.

Other areas of bottleneck were reading, math, and exceptional student education for students with special needs.

Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, told Phoenix that one of the main reasons for this lack of science teaching is pay.

“Science and mathematics have always been a difficult area to fill, mainly because we don’t pay teachers well,” said Spar. “And if you work in science and math, you can go into the private sector – or even the public sector in other areas – and earn significantly more money than as a teacher.”

Districts will hire teachers without the regular certifications in the subject unless the role is filled by someone better qualified, sometimes referred to as an “outside of the field teacher.” In this way, the Ministry of Education determines in which areas there is a teacher shortage.

Of 3,571 physics-science courses taught in 2019-20, 487 of those courses were taught by faculty who were not certified in an appropriate area to teach the subject, according to the department’s data.

This also applies to 1,188 teachers who taught general science subjects, out of 12,483 in 2019-20. In Earth and Space Sciences, of 3,504 courses, 411 were taught by an instructor who was not certified in a relevant field.

The Department of Education is also assessing the number of post-secondary students doing teacher training in certain areas to gauge what the future recruitment pool might look like.

The number of teachers graduating from general science teacher training programs in 2018-19 was just 13, as reported in the report from education programs across Florida. Compare that to the 138 students in English education programs or 115 students in math education programs.

The number of science teaching programs was 15. There were no students completing an earth and space science teaching program in 2018-19.

This story was originally published by Florida Phoenix. For more Florida Phoenix stories, visit FloridaPhoenix.com.


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