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Deriving AP Precalculus: the decision to turn Precalculus into an AP course

In April, the school announced that all Pathway to Honors Precalculus classes would be made into an AP class. Many people were confused and had many different feelings and questions about how it would affect the curriculum, if the work-level would change, and more.

“There were talks about it nearly all last year,” stated Ilma Lodhi, an AP Precalculus teacher here at ETHS. Before 2022 the Math Department began to consider the idea of changing the Precalculus course.

“I think that summer of 2022 was when the college board first said ‘Hey, we’re gonna have an AP Precalculus course,’” explained Dale Liebforth, the Math Department Chair.

While this decision was made by the Math Department for many different reasons, it was mainly decided as a way to benefit students rather than increase stress levels.

According to Liebforth, one way this decision benefits students is by giving them an AP class on their transcripts.

“Since Advanced/Pathway to Honors Precalc aligned really well with the pathway to AB and BC Calc, we thought if Precalculus covered all the material and all four units from the college board, then since we’re covering all that content, those students taking Precalc should get AP credit on their transcripts, so we requested a title change,” he says.

Although this was implemented in a very rushed manner and came as a surprise, the Math Department had been thinking about it for a while.

“During the summer they started to kind of leak out some information,” said Leibforth “In the fall they were still constructing what the course would look like as we got more details about the course. Fall 2022 was when we started to look at if this is something that we should be doing for the 2023/2024 school year.”

Although the College Board and ETHS Math Department weren’t given much time to decide whether they wanted to make this sudden change, they decided to do it.

“It was formalized through the summer of this year,” Lodhi said, “when families found out teachers found out formally a little bit before them, so around the end of the school year last year was when I found out.”

“We had a meeting in the Fall with the college board and said that the intent of the precalculus course is that it’s for everyone,” Reflected Leibforth, “not just for students who are going to take BC Calc the following year.”

After this was announced to students in the fall, they had different reactions, some were more neutral than others.

“I feel like making Precalc into an AP class puts a lot of unnecessary stress on students,” said Odessa Winn, a junior in AP Precalculus at ETHS, “but I think the Math Department made that decision to better the education of juniors.”

While some students thought about this in a positive light, others had more negative reactions to this sudden change and weren’t totally sure what this would change.

“When I first found out that Precalc was being changed to an AP, my first thought was ‘that doesn’t sound like it’s necessary.’ I was also confused about how this would affect the curriculum and the class,” stated a junior in AP Precalculus at ETHS.

“I think the Math Department decided on Precalc being an AP because it looks good for colleges for people who end high school taking Precalculus,” observed Luca Berreti, a junior at ETHS. “But to me it just shows how we value the “AP” name too much. The term “AP” doesn’t really mean anything because “college-level” Precalculus isn’t a thing.”

Overall, this decision was made to benefit students, but not many students in AP Precalc reported feeling like they were being benefitted, every student had their own reaction and thoughts on this decision.

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Hope Vezner
Hope Vezner, Staff Writer
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