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Topic: Non-AP Calculus
Replies: 3   Last Post: Jun 17, 1997 1:00 PM

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Chris & Sheila King

Posts: 133
Registered: 12/6/04
Non-AP Calculus
Posted: Jun 13, 1997 1:27 PM
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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?

Sheila King




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