The reason most often cited for encouraging students to take Algebra 1 in middle school is so that they can take one or two calculus courses in high school. Those calculus courses both help students prepare for math-intensive college STEM majors and make them stand out in the college admissions process.

Middle school Algebra 1 enrollments in Florida’s public schools seem to indicate that parents are aware of that reason. In the Fall of 2023, 45.7% of eighth graders in the state’s public schools were taking Algebra 1 or a higher-level math course. According to *Education Week*, the national rate is 36%.

But course enrollment data for Florida public schools suggest that only 10% of students who take Algebra 1 in eighth grade take a calculus course that can provide credit toward a STEM bachelor’s degree while in twelfth grade.

My analysis also suggests that among students who take Algebra 1 in seventh grade, 53% take a college-credit-for-STEM-majors first calculus course in eleventh grade. But then only 17% take a second college credit calculus course in twelfth grade.

I reached those conclusions by examining grade-by-grade course enrollment data made available by the Florida Department of Education. Students who take Algebra 1 in seventh grade and then stay on track take Geometry in eighth grade, Algebra 2 in ninth grade, Precalculus in tenth grade, a first calculus course that yields college STEM major credit in eleventh grade and a second such calculus course in twelfth grade. The numbers of students enrolled in those courses at those grade levels in the Fall of 2023 is shown below. In the Precalculus enrollment, I included Honors Precalculus, AP Precalculus and dual enrollment precalculus courses. The enrollment for the first calculus course includes AP Calculus AB and the dual enrollment Calculus 1 course for STEM majors (MAC 2311 or 1311). I took AP Calculus BC and the dual enrollment Calculus 2 course (MAC 2312 or 1312) to be the second calculus course.

The corresponding plot for students starting in Algebra 1 in 8th grade is also shown below.

One way of interpreting these results is that students (and their parents!) have an aversion to taking calculus during the senior year of high school.