I have a question (or questions) about offering non-AP calculus.
Several years back (1988 0r 1989?) NCTM and MAA co-authored a letter in which they advised schools to offer AP (rigorous) Calculus courses only, and not to offer non-AP Calculus in high school. If students had too weak a prerequisite background to handle AP Calc, it was advised that this deficiency be corrected rather than allowing them to proceed to a less rigorous calculus. One of the problems cited in the letter with allowing students to take non-AP Calc, was that they then encountered difficulty in College/University when they went on to repeat Calculus and (1) lacked sufficient precalc skills to be successful in that course, and (2) felt that they "already knew this stuff" and therefore did not apply themselves to their studies and subsequently earned a low grade.
Now that the AP curriculum is (supposedly) changing so significantly (personally, I don't see that much of a difference), I am wondering if this advice still holds?
We have enough students enrolling in Calculus next year to offer two sections. We have never offered non-AP calculus before, and have rarely had sufficient enrollment to offer more than one section of the course. However, we have several students whom we feel do not have sufficient mastery of precalc to handle AP calculus next year. Usually what we have done is try to schedule them into a different math class or require them to make up their precalc deficiency during the summer by attending a community college course.
My dept. head talked to me this morning, and says that they are going to offer one section of AP calc and one non-AP next year, to solve our scheduling problems. He talked to the PreCalc teachers yesterday afternoon, and they feel that this is a good idea for the students involved. I have reservations. I am sorry to see such a knee-jerk decision being made at the end of the school year and I am not sure that this will serve the lesser able students well in the long run (after they leave our school).
I know there are schools out there that offer non-AP calculus. There are also university professors on this list who have probably taught such students. I am interested in your comments and reactions to this idea.
1. Do students who take non-AP calc in high school go on to do well in subsequent math courses in college?
2. Shouldn't these students strengthen their prerequisite skills rather than plod along with acknowledged weak skills and then add to that a weak calculus background?
3. Do NCTM and MAA still stand by their position in that letter from the '80s?