I must jump into this discussion on Mark's side. I am a high school teacher. From my point of view, AP has given some direction to the efforts of high school teachers throughout the country by providing some sort of benchmark. Many teachers have looked at the AP test and/or their school's results on the same and ahve concluded that their program was not "up to speed." They have then worked very hard to provide for a series of courses that would move their students into a position where they are prepared to understand the material in the AP course. There are many teachers who were reluctant to use graphing calculators until AP said they were required. Many of those teachers have become believers in the new technology. Many schools ahve begun to require graphing calculators in algebra and trig because it is on the AP test. It has also been my experience that msot teachers who want to go beyond the AP course simply teach a strong calculus course and realize that their students will do well on the test if they understand the ideas, even if there is a topic or two they did not cover in detail. AS a national standard, it is necessarily conservative, but it is at least a standard in a country that seems reluctant to set any educational standards. It has certainly helped me become a better teacher. Like anything else, it is no perfect, but I would have to say it is opne of the more successful attempts at upgrading the quality of mathematics education in the US.
Anyway, that's what I think
John Benson (School) (Home) Evanston Township High School 715 South Boulevard Evanston Illinois 60204 Evanston IL 60202-2907 (847) 492-5848 Phone (847) 328-8019 Phone (847) 492-3872 Fax (847) 328-9280 Fax