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"Reform Calculus" and AP Calc changes for 1998
Posted:
Jun 1, 1997 5:54 PM


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 thoughtout, 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 itembyitem 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 midsummer, 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 apexams@ets.org.
Suggestion to College Board: send the Teacher's Guide to all AP teachers as early as you can.  Evan Romer Susquehanna Valley HS sv_golden@SUNYbroome.edu Conklin NY 13748



