AP Precalculus is unique from all other APs because Precalculus is not a college-level class. Michele Breen, Math Department Head, says, “Typically, AP classes are for college credit. Precalculus is a senior-level course so it is a new thing for the College Board to offer a non college-level class as an AP”.
The College Board says the goal of the new AP Precalculus course is to prepare a much broader group of students to thrive in college math courses by giving them an opportunity to take a class at the college-level intensity in high school, regardless of where they start in high school math.
If M-A offers a common core course, like Precalculus, as an advanced course, like AP or AS, it will provide a non-advanced option. However, introducing two forms of Precalculus differs from other advanced math classes, such as Geometry Enriched and AS Algebra 2. According to Breen, “AP Precalculus and regular Precalculus would still both go to the same AP Calculus classes the next year. After Algebra 2, students have choices, depending on their tracking, like finite math. Once you finish Precalculus, what’s next?”
Whether a student takes AP Precalculus or not, they have the same options for AP Calculus, Statistics, or high school graduation.
Jon Simon, who teaches math and computer science, said, “The Precalculus class M-A currently offers successfully prepares students who wish to go on to take AP Calculus and therefore the addition of an AP Precalculus class would be unnecessary as preparation for AP Calculus.”
Simon continued, “In part, because AP Precalculus is not a course that would translate into college credit, only a grade point boost, the M-A Math Department does not see a present need at M-A at this time for AP Precalculus.”
Simon said, “Any time there are multiple levels of a course, students will be separated that would usually be together. I really like the students I have, and I don’t know what it would look like if there were an AP class as well. I don’t know which students would be in that class or if I would be teaching AP Precalculus.”
Celia Bernstein, a sophomore in AS Algebra 2, said, “I would be interested in taking AP Precalculus next year if the rigor is not that much harder and I get a good grade because it would boost my GPA.”
Before the College Board releases the complete course details this summer, M-A will decide to add it or leave it off the course options list in February.