The U.S. Department of Education collects data annually on teacher preparation programs under Title II of the Higher Education Act. Each year, programs self-report data on their program graduates, and the Department combines this information with the results of each state's teaching certification exams. This is all combined into large Excel files and is publicly available on the Title II website.
For the PhysTEC National Report Card, each year's data is downloaded and analyzed. The Title II data includes three main methods for counting the number teachers prepared: teachers counted by their academic major ("major"), by the subject area of their program ("subject"), and by their area of state certification ("area"). Teachers counted by major and subject are reported to Title II by each institution of higher education (IHE). The states then report the areas of teachers who have passed their state certifications to Title II as well as data for non-IHE-based programs (using all three counting methods). See the FAQ page for more information about counting methods.
There are several implications that accompany the different, overlapping counting methods. Teachers counted by their academic major earned that degree either at the same time as or before they completed a teacher preparation program and not necessarily at the same institution as the preparation program. Teachers counted by the subject area of their program have met the criteria established by the state to qualify for licensure in that subject. These criteria are different in each state. The results of these two counting methods are reported to Title II by individual IHEs and by the state for non-IHEs; respondents must select different majors and subjects for each student from drop-down menus with limited numbers of options. Teachers counted by area of certification have earned a certification with a specific title which is then reported to Title II by the state. Teachers counted this way do not necessarily have a degree closely related to their certification title, making it difficult to assume they are highly qualified. Because PhysTEC includes physics preparation in its own definition of "highly qualified physics teacher," the data presented on this website focus mainly on teachers counted by major unless otherwise stated.
All data presented on this website is from the three most recent calendar years for which Title II data are available. As program and institution names sometimes change, we use the most recent names and apply them to all five years of data. In addition, if a program becomes inactive at some point during the five years of most recent data, the program is not included at all. To identify physics-specific categories for all three counting methods, we used all of the categories that explicitly mention "physics," resulting in the following lists:
Majors included: "Physics", "Teacher Education - Physics", and "Astronomy and Astrophysics"
Subjects included: "Teacher Education - Physics"
Areas included: Because the "area" reporting method does not have pre-populated choices and every state reports different names for areas, we filtered out all certification titles that did not include the word "physics." If a range of grades was also specified in the certification title (e.g., "Physics 5-12"), we did not include those that only extended up to grade 9, assuming high schools generally include grades 9-12. This was to keep everything as consistent yet inclusive as possible.
Note that the "Majors" method does not count minors. A nationwide survey by the American Institute for Physics found that for every 100 physics teachers with a major in physics or physics education, another 28 had a minor in one of those subjects.