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Topic: "Reform Calculus" and AP Calc changes for 1998
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Posts: 24
Registered: 12/6/04
"Reform Calculus" and AP Calc changes for 1998
Posted: Jun 1, 1997 5:54 PM
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I just joined this list and read the archives for April and May. There has
been a lot of discussion about the merits and demerits of "reform"
calculus. An unstated assumption seems to be that the new AP curriculum
for 1998 is a version of "reform" calculus. Sometimes this assumption is
explicit: Richard Askey wrote

> The report from a committee looking at the future of the AP
> Calculus exam reads like a description of the Harvard Calculus book

But I think that's incorrect. As Joshua Zucker wrote,

> Having now looked at the 1998
> course description, I'm much more inclined to view the revisions as
> incremental change rather than wholesale replacement of philosophy. I
> just don't see anything that staggeringly new for 1998.

I think that's right: we shouldn't equate "reform" calculus with the new
AP. The new AP curriculum adopts many of the "reform" ideas, but preserves
many "traditional" topics, approaches and ideas. In both the October
teleconference on the new AP curriculum and in a Saturday AP Calc workshop
I attended, we were specifically told that if we use a "traditional"
textbook next year, we will need to supplement it with problems and
concepts from a "reform" text, and if we use a "reform" text we will have
to supplement that with material from a "traditional" text. (Foerster's
book was not out yet, so that may be an exception to the above
statement -- I haven't looked at it carefully yet.)

In my opinion, the new AP is an excellent balance, and moreover, it
doesn't seem to have been balanced by "let's take a few topics from here
and a few topics from there," but seems to be a well thought-out,
thematically coherent whole, for the most part.


On a related note, I just received a copy of the new Teacher's Guide for
AP Calculus and I am VERY impressed. It will be an invaluable resource.
I haven't looked at all of it carefully, but I really liked part II, which
goes item-by-item through the new course outline and elaborates on it,
gives examples, explains why certain choices were made, explains the
philosophy. It really helped me understand the new course and the
underlying philosophy behind it.


Note: The Teacher's Guide is to be mailed free to every AP teacher in
late July or early August. I got a copy earlier because my school
inadvertently ordered a copy several weeks ago (paid for, not free).

Before I got my copy, I had complained to the College Board about the idea
of sending copies in mid-summer, as if many of us don't prepare over the
summer. I got the impression that if a teacher requested it, they might be
sent their free copy earlier. Try asking

Suggestion to College Board: send the Teacher's Guide to all AP teachers
as early as you can.

Evan Romer Susquehanna Valley HS Conklin NY 13748

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