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From Jane Jackson, ASU physics, Modeling Instruction.

Nationally, the percentage of high school students who take PHYSICS has grown to almost 40% (AIP, 2014). Physics is prerequisite for almost all STEM careers. High school physics is the chief STEM pathway.


on high school physics as a core course are:

1) The ACT policy platform: K-12 (2013) states:

   ACT research has demonstrated the benefits to student academic performance of a minimum core curriculum that includes the following: ... Three years of science, including rigorous courses in Biology, Chemistry, and PHYSICS [MY CAPS] ...

( http://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/Policy-Platforms-k-12-online.pdf , p.8 )

2) Position Statement of the National Alliance of Black School Educators: http://vector.nsbp.org/2012/03/16/national-alliance-of-black-school-educators-endorses-physics-first/

   Physics is a gateway course for post-secondary study in science, medicine, and engineering, as well as an essential component in the formation of students' scientific literacy. Physics classes hone thinking skills. An understanding of physics leads to a better understanding of other science disciplines. Physics classes help polish the skills needed to score well on the SAT and ACT. College recruiters recognize the value of taking high school physics. College success for virtually all science, computing, engineering, and premedical majors depends in part on passing physics. The job market for people with skills in physics is strong. Knowledge of physics is helpful for understanding the arts, politics, history, and culture.
   Currently only 25% of Black and Hispanic high school students take any course in physics. Thus many do not even get to the gateway. ...


What is the evidence for including physics in a core curriculum? These four publications show that:

  • Students who take high school PHYSICS are twice as likely to be ready for COLLEGE SCIENCE (ACT report of 2006, p. 2 & 3).
  • A college student who took high school physics is twice as likely to earn a STEM bachelor's degree as a student whose highest science course was chemistry (Tyson et al., 2007).
  • Interactive engagement high school physics programs (like Modeling Instruction) almost double again the number of students who intend to major in STEM, compared to lecture-based high school physics (TIMSS, 2000). (i.e., minds-on, hands-on investigations with quick feedback via student discourse.)
  • On TIMSS science & math literacy tests, interactive engagement high school PHYSICS programs score highest in the world! (TIMSS 2000 -- Table A1: just after page 35).
  • ONE year of high school physics is more strongly correlated with STEM career interest, than ANY other science course (Sadler et al -- see Fig.3).


  1. ACT (2006): Developing the STEM Education Pipeline, page 2 & 3. Download at http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED493179.pdf
  2. Will Tyson, Reginald Lee, Kathryn M. Borman and Mary Ann Hanson (2007). Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Pathways: High School Science and Math Coursework and Postsecondary Degree Attainment, Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 243-270. (Tyson was at the University of South Florida.)
  3. TIMSS Physics Achievement Comparison Study, by Eugenio Gonzalez (April 2000). Conducted for the National Science Foundation by TIMSS International Study Center, Boston College, Chestnut Hill. http://modeling.asu.edu/Evaluations/TIMSS_NSFphysicsStudy99.pdf
  4. Philip M. Sadler et al. (2014). Science Educator, Vol.23, No.1, pp. 1-13. See Fig. 3. http://nsela.org/images/stories/scienceeducator/Summer2014/Sadler_231.pdf
  5. High School Physics Courses & Enrollments, American Institute of Physics (June 2014). https://www.aip.org/statistics/reports/high-school-physics-courses-enrollments-0