Recently, there have been discussions on the AP Calculus mailing list about whether or not there should be an AP Precalculus course. If done well, I think this is a unique opportunity for the College Board. I feel that one of the strengths of the AP program is the reputation it maintains for high standards, thereby allowing many 4-year universities to award credit based on student performance on the AP tests. Precalculus is a course that sits in that grey area. Many 4-year universities do not consider Precalculus to be a credit-bearing course if they offer it at all (evidence needed to support this assertion – I could just be talking out of a body part other than my mouth here). However, Precalculus is a credit-bearing course at community colleges. Oddly enough, I don’t believe that many community colleges award credit for a passing score on the AP Calculus exam. It seems like community colleges have been left out of the conversation at the College Board – is that true? Are 2-year institutions represented in those that read the AP exams? Do they have representation on the committees that determine the curriculum or write the AP test questions? Maybe this is an opportunity to bring the 2-year colleges into the AP conversation. It might also provide options or alternatives for “calculus readiness” tests that many 4-year institutions spend resources on administering. Perhaps a passing AP Precalc score could count for credit at a 2-year college and count as a prerequisite for Calc I at a 4-year college?
These are the kinds of thoughts that literally keep me up at night.