TO: Secondary School Mathematics Teachers
FROM: The Mathematical Association of America
The National Council of Teachers of Math.
DATE: September, 1986
RE: Calculus in the Secondary School
A single variable calculus course is now well established in the 12th grade at many secondary schools, and the number of students enrolling is increasing substantially each year. In this letter, we would like to discuss two problems that have emerged.
The first problem concerns the relationship between the calculus course offered in high school and the succeeding calculus courses in college. The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) recommend that the calculus course offered in the 12th grade should be treated as a college-level course. The expectation should be that a substantial majority of the students taking the course will master the material and will not then repeat the subject upon entrance to college. Too many students now view their 12th grade calculus course as an introduction to calculus with the expectation of repeating the material in college. This causes an undesirable attitude on the part of the student both in secondary school and in college. In secondary school all too often a student may feel "I don't have to study this subject too seriously, because I have already seen most of the ideas."
This memorandum was extracted from Calculus for a New Century: A Pump, Not a Filter, A National Colloquium, October 28–29, 1987 (MAA Notes, Number 8, edited by Lynn Arthur Steen for The Board on Mathematical Sciences and The Mathematical Sciences Education Board of The National Research Council, Mathematical Association of America, 1988).