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Inequities in Physics Access and Enrollment in Urban High Schools Documents

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Inequities in Physics Access and Enrollment in Urban High Schools 

written by Angela Kelly

Despite reports to the contrary, the availability of physics as a course for secondary students is not equitably distributed throughout the U.S.  While some schools provide physics access for all, a more common scenario is limited availability to select students. This is particularly true in urban districts, where this study examined access to and availability of high school physics. New York City's secondary schools were surveyed to determine where physics was offered and how many students were enrolled.  Statistics were performed to compare differences between physics and non-physics schools. Additionally, organizational factors were examined that relate to physics availability, such as the magnet school configuration, the AP Physics and conceptual physics options, and science curricular sequence.  Overall, it was determined that physics availability is limited in NYC schools, a serious inequity that disproportionately affects students of color and poor children. Strategies for improving access and enrollment will be discussed.

Published October 20, 2008
Last Modified May 21, 2009

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