School to offer AP Precalculus next year

Photo by Clayton Robbins on Unsplash

By Jasmine Kim

Granada Hills Charter (GHC) approved the new Advanced Placement (AP) Precalculus course launching in the 2023-24 school year to offer additional opportunities for students that want to pursue a higher level of mathematics. AP Precalculus is designed for students who have taken both Geometry and Algebra 2 or integrated Math 3.

Currently, GHC offers College Prep (CP) and Honors Precalculus, but the math department decided to transition the honors course into an AP course to provide students with the benefit of college credit and the chance to stand out to colleges. However, the staff determined that CP Precalculus would still be offered to students who may not want to take the AP class, at least for the transition period.

“This is a new course and we want to make sure we understand the parameters and difficulty before we get rid of options for students,” math department chair Danielle Peabody said. 

The College Board is offering an AP Summer Institute (APSI) for Precalculus, a four-day professional learning experience that equips teachers with a deep understanding of the course framework, exam, and instructional support. 

Additionally, GHC teachers will go through AP course training and be introduced to the new curriculum that goes along with the new course description. The math department recognizes the many differences in GHC’s current program and the new AP course description. 

“I anticipate that students will be hesitant with the new course in the beginning since they will feel that it will be more difficult than our current honors course,” Peabody said. “This will not be the case, and in the next year or so, students will realize what a great opportunity the AP Precalculus course is and that it isn’t too big of a jump from the CP Precalculus course.”

According to the College Board, AP Precalculus will be accessible to many high school students, including those who take Algebra 1 before or during freshman year. While most students who take Algebra 1 prior to freshman year take calculus courses, the most frequent AP Calculus AB exam scores are 1s and 2s, indicating that students need better preparation. Additionally, half of the ninth graders in the United States begin with Algebra 1 and do not encounter calculus until college, but with the AP credit, more students will be motivated to persist in four years of math in high school.

“Students who take math all four years of high school are 140% more likely to be considered ‘college ready’ and ‘calculus ready,’” according to the College Board.

At GHC, AP Precalculus will be open to all students who have passed the previous course, Algebra 2. While the honors class had a grade and Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) score cutoff, the new AP course will be available to all students, increasing accessibility.

The previous honors course covered Precalculus topics and introduced Calculus, but the new AP course will cover the four topics outlined in the precalculus course description: polynomials and rational functions, exponential and logarithmic function, trigonometric and polar functions, and functions involving parameters, vectors, and matrices. Calculus AB and BC will both begin in Unit 1 of the Calculus course description with limits. This will make AP Calculus BC move at a faster pace since they will only have to cover 10 chapters of material versus beginning in chapter 3 as they typically do now.

The initiative to recruit students for precalculus will help STEM students establish a strong foundation for calculus. 

“AP Precalculus offers a unique opportunity to welcome far more students into advanced coursework, creating more equitable representation in AP classes,” according to the College Board.