## AP Stats vs. AP Calc

For many years, my high school did not offer AP Statistics. Then towards the beginning of 2013, the College Board in conjunction with Google offered my high school a grant. The grant was offered to help fund the initiation of an AP Stats course, because the “statistics” from our PSAT scores indicated that we had many females who qualified to take AP Statistics but were not able to do so. The great news is, this past year my school had 54 students take stats and next year 147 students signed up!! I think that is fabulous growth in a class after one year…

With the offering of AP Statistics available, it inadvertently created a new scenario; students dropping out of AP Calculus to take stats instead.

So here is the new conversation going on at my high school…should students take AP Stats or AP Calc? I don’t think students have enough information, nor can they foresee their own future, to make this decision.

Instead, I would like to hear from any adults out there who have ideas on how to handle this?

If you could do it over again, would you take math, stats or both?

What advice should we give students?

Do you have any personal experiences that can be shared?

I would love to hear from you. To vote and give reasons, use the comment option.

I teach AP Statistics as well, Angie, and our school (well, certain math teachers that recommend students to their next course and a few admin) over the years has made a concerted effort to influence students to enroll in calculus, because there are greater future benefits to having completed that particular course. Students that have an excellent work ethic, and strive to come nothing short of an ‘A’ in pre-calc are almost always recommended for calculus, without seeing what the student is actually interested in. I’d say it’s pretty simple: take stats. It’s gonna come up again, somewhere, no matter what you do. Engineer? Yep. Psychiatrist? No doubt. Programming? Unquestionable. And if you’re the type of student that finds calculus “Easy”, then by all means, take both. That’s where I stand on that issue.

Thank you for the excellent response Robert!

Angie, this is an interesting question. As a former AP social studies teacher, I was often asked about AP European History and AP World History – in much the same way you indicate here. I wonder how may other potential duplicates or overlaps exist within the AP curriculum?

AP Stats overlaps some concepts with AP Biology, AP Psych and I imagine others as well. These are just a few I have heard this past year. Strangely enough, I see no overlap with AP Stats and AP Calculus.

As an accelerated math student in high school I basically had to take pre-calc as a junior and then as a senior (when I was not required to take a math class) I had the option of AP calc or AP stat and it was the easiest decision I ever made…Stat all the way. I think the reason that the decision was so easy for me was because I had taken pre calc and knew I did not want to continue with the same type of math. Do your students have this option?

My high school is on an 8-period schedule, therefore a lot of students don’t have to pick one or the other, then can take both!! In my stats class last year, only about 6 kids out of 54 only took stats and not math. So yes they do have the option now to just take stats. As time goes on, we will see which wins out as stats can be 5 college credits when they pass the AP exam, where as calculus can be 5-20 credits!! (if students take a second year of calc they can get up to 20 credits using the college in the high school program)

Hi Angie:

Great question. At my school we don’t have AP classes we have IB classes but I think there is some overlap. We’ve had a hard time getting students the proper information to make their own decisions about which IB classes to offer. As a result this year when it came time to select classes we had a ‘class fair’ where each teacher presented to all grade 10 students the courses they were offering, what they involved, what sort of students would be most successful and what careers they might lead to. This might help your students make more informed decisions rather than just listening to the gossip of their peers.

Bryan

The class fair is an excellent idea. I especially like the career and student success info!! Students and parents must have loved it. Thanks for sharing.

-Angie

I was never a math person. At some point, I’ll probably live in an artsy loft. However, has your school thought about an “experimental math” class where it encompass both? Each 1/4 could explore a particular aspect of math. Once calc., one stats, one engineering math, one something else? I think a variety class would be cool!

This is a great idea Jeanne!! Us math people always like hearing ideas that can draw in the declared non-math crowd. We have had a hard time expanding course options in our math department as there have typically only been seven of us and we cover 13 different courses, many of which are singletons. Expansion has been tough as several people keep ended up with 3 preps and constant implementation of new curriculum for existing courses. It does cause a lot of burn out. For example, since 2010 I have had 3 new curriculums on top of working on my master’s degree. This is after me saying “no” I need to not keep working 12 hour days to implement “your” idea!! I will definitely keep your idea in mind though just in case we ever have some growth in math staff.