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    Joined: Mar 2013
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    Originally Posted by ultramarina
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    Assume that college-going students should get some calculus under their belts in the senior year.

    I wonder why this is an assumption we should make? Curious if anyone can justify it. Why is calculus in high school necessary? (Says the woman who did not take calculus in high school--btw, I was admitted to a number of highly prestigious schools without it, but that was then and this is now.)
    No we shouldn't assume that all students need Calculus before college nor that all should take it. I agree there is too much an emphasis on all students getting Calculus. But our higher level math tracks in our H.S. need to have the option for students to take Calculus before graduation.

    If you want to go into a STEM program in university there is a disadvantage to students who haven't taken AP Calculus in H.S. From admission into engineering/science programs to being able to graduate in 4 years once admitted. Most college programs are set up that if if you do well in H.S. math and are ready to take Calculus as a freshman college you should be fine but the competition to get INTO these programs necessitates kids taking the class. In addition it's a level of math many students CAN take before college.

    If you are not planing to go into fields such as math, science, engineering, computer science, pre-med, economics, statistics, and business you probably don't ever need Calculus at all. Most H.S. offer AP Statistics and many students take this instead of A.P. Calculus.

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    It completely makes sense to me for students who are math- and science-focused to take calc in HS. I just don't see why ALL students should take it in HS. I would arge that statistics is a much more generally relevant class, anyway. Heaven knows most of the people I know IRL seem to need a class in it.

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    Our choices are pretty typical of those posted - Alg in 7th, 8th, or 9th, with pre-calc, Calc AB/BC, or Calc III in 12th. A few kids every year are moved into a higher math off the standard track, as my youngest was, usually at the whim of a nice teacher or principal (he'll be bused to the HS next year in 8th for AlgII/Trig).

    Honestly, I think your daughter will do just fine if she's a smart kid and a moderately motivated student. What I've seen with all my kids is that once they are moved up, they just get along in whatever class they're in and that class generally feels right. None have hit a wall or felt overwhelmed. If she could handle Trigonometry in 11th grade, she will handle it in 9th or 10th grade, as long as she is progressed appropriately. All the other kids will be moving along at the same speed and have skipped/compressed the same classes.

    I do think it's pretty important to have Calculus before college if possible (for the staying on track to graduate reasons), but my son's godmother teaches at a very prestigious college of Engineering and she has remarked before that many kids she sees don't have the same opportunities that mine do and a fairly good chunk of her students come in without calculus. According to the 2013 NAEP, 18% of high schoolers have taken calculus. So, it's great to have it, but it's not like she would be the only one without it if she didn't take it. One caveat - if at her school, almost all kids DO take it, then it might stand out if she doesn't.

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    The question for DD really isn't calc or no calc (though I think that's also a worthwhile question!)--it's calc in 11th or calc in 12th. I would certainly say she's a kid who should take calc in HS. She's science-oriented and "good" at math--just not "outstanding."

    BTW, I don't see trig in her course progression anywhere.

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    This issue is not specific to Calculus. I should point out that Algebra II and geometry are also not very relevant for most people beyond high school. Hopefully, its the intellectual exercise itself i.e learning abstract problem solving that remains afterwards.

    Last edited by BenjaminL; 06/04/15 09:25 AM.
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    Originally Posted by ultramarina
    It completely makes sense to me for students who are math- and science-focused to take calc in HS. I just don't see why ALL students should take it in HS. I would arge that statistics is a much more generally relevant class, anyway. Heaven knows most of the people I know IRL seem to need a class in it.
    Statistics is probably more helpful for most people than Calculus. Or a class that I want to call 'real world math' that involves some stats, some probability, some basic math that most kids learn in 5th grade but it's not relevant to them till it's time to get their own credit cards. Seems to me a lot of students exit H.S. not understanding how credit cards, loans and lottery probabilities work.

    As for Stats if you want to take more than a basic class in statistics at university you need to understand calculus, ie.. if your taking a Stats for a Stats, Econ, or Business major. You need a Basic Stats class that is based on Calculus before taking higher level classes. Typically you can take that after taking AP AB Calc, or one semester of college Calculus. So if you are planing on going on in those fields you might be better off with Calculus in H.S. rather than A.P. Stats.

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    Our school goes like this:

    Track 1:
    8th grade prealgebra, 9th grade algebra. Finishes with 12th grade precalculus or ends with Algebra 2, etc. No honors math classes are available for this track; generally kids in this track won't take (m)any honors classes, though subjects are tracked individually. However, for many kids this is acceptable and comfortable, which is fine.

    Track 2:
    8th grade algebra, 9th grade geometry. Finishes with 12th grade AB or BC calculus or AP stats. Honors classes available but not all the kids take them. Generally represents the "average" kid in my mind BUT there is a range of ability (some kids should really be in a different track, some just show normal variation). Most kids/parents happy with this track.

    Track 3: 8th grade geometry, 9th grade Algebra 2. Finishes calculus in 11th grade with extra math class in 12th grade, like stats. This track is entirely honors. Represents advanced students; less than 2% of kids. Likely to be in all/mostly honors classes.

    There are a handful of kids who are accelerated beyond this on a case by case basis. I think there's a class or so of kids tracked into something one level lower than track 1, and some kids fail classes or need remedial math at a lower level than track 1. However, track 1 is the lowest "option".
    I thought track 1 was maybe 25% and 2 maybe 70%, but I think it's closer to 35% and 60%. Either way, track 1 is viewed as being below average and low-average; track 2 is average. It's a sort of gray. area. Track 3 is the advanced track.
    However, the school tells everyone that the track 1 kids are "right where they should be" and track 2 kids are "advanced". Well....it helps the parents and kids feel good about themselves, but really algebra in 8th grade is the new average. Our school isn't particularly above average, either. That being said I think many kids in track 2 may benefit from track 1, even if they can scrape by.
    Common core is used up through algebra and/or HS, I believe. Either that or it's just executed much better and no one notices it.

    Sorry that's so long. Basically: high achievers either take geometry in 8th grade, or take algebra in 8th so they can be at the top of the class.

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    Originally Posted by ultramarina
    BTW, I don't see trig in her course progression anywhere.
    Trig is probably rolled into another course. In our district I think it's part of either Alg II or the pre-calc equivalent, depending on your track. The basic functions seem to be introduced in pre-algebra now, and the rest won't fill a semester.

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    Originally Posted by ultramarina
    The question for DD really isn't calc or no calc (though I think that's also a worthwhile question!)--it's calc in 11th or calc in 12th. I would certainly say she's a kid who should take calc in HS. She's science-oriented and "good" at math--just not "outstanding."

    BTW, I don't see trig in her course progression anywhere.
    There is no trig.. because with the Common Core class realignments Trig is added to the Algebra/Geometry/Algebra II topics and covered in those courses. It doesn't need to be it's own course. It's certainly never been a full year course, my son's pre-calc course is a combination of extra Algebra II, Trig and very basic Calc and a few other 'topics'.

    This issue was thought about when my district was looking into the new math program. The feedback we were getting from college professors in engineering & science is they would PREFER students take Calculus in 12th grade. Because those who take it in 11th (most honors kids these days) often forget a lot before they start H.S. I proposed that we need a H. Trig/TOPICS class (for H. 11th graders) that is to be taken between Algebra II & AP B.C. Calc. The new plan allows going from Algebra II straight to AP A.B. Calc. My district is very against adding a Multi-variable math class but there are a lot of interesting & in depth topics that could be covered before getting to Calculus.

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    The feedback we were getting from college professors in engineering & science is they would PREFER students take Calculus in 12th grade. Because those who take it in 11th (most honors kids these days) often forget a lot before they start H.S.

    I'm thinking this is what happened to my DH, who also took calc in a subpar blue-collar school district.

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