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Calculus in High School
Posted:
Feb 3, 1995 7:01 PM


I find the AP calculus discussion fascinating; I, too, took calculus in high school. I did not hear of AP calculus until along about my junior year at college when some of the guys in the dorm talked about it and I discovered that a) such a test existed and b) high schools named their courses after it.
You see, the high school I went to (a suburban school in Connecticut) offered a year of calculus which also had a total of 7 semester credits of calculus from University of Connecticut attached. The teacher functioned as adjunct faculty to the University. I assume (I have to . . . I didn't check then and it was 15 years and 3000 miles ago.) that the University of Connecticut protected its interest by using the same quality control on the local high school teachers as it did on its ordinary instructors and TA's.
This seems to me a much more civilized situation than the AP thing. After all, credits are credits, aren't they? (read muted sarcasm).
Now I teach at a smallish four year college in Idaho, and my early morning calculus class is about half high school seniors from three towns. They will be transcripted with two semesters of calculus, just like I was. And the grade also counts on their high school GPA, just like mine did.
I would like to point out that the high school course I took was more comprehensive than the course I was required to retake in college by a disbelieving advisor (high school calculus isn't rigourous enough!) and later taught myself at the same school. It was about the same caliber as the course I taught last year here in Idaho. I still have all of the notes from all of the classes, so I know those statements are true up to congurence of exams and transcribed blackboard symbols. The jury is still out on this year's course; I switched to a nontraditional text.
After the rambling I seem to find that I do, indeed have a point to this. That is, the artificial separation between high school and college has led to the perceived need for the AP test. If you are a professor in a postsecondary institution and the high schools nearby offer calculus, go out and see what it is they are teaching. Get the teacher and students certified if what they do is satisfactory. Help fix it if it isn't. If you teach calculus in high school, find a college which will help you teach the "right" course and get your students credit.
Well, off my soapbox for today. I have to go grade the latest set of essays and labs from my calculus class.
 Edward S. Miller edmiller@lcsc.edu
Division of Natural Sciences VOICE 2087992810 LewisClark State College FAX 2087992064 500 8th Avenue Lewiston ID 835012698 USA 



