Opponents of Alabama’s current mathematics standards have cited the decrease in participation and success in advanced level math coursework as a rationale for repealing and replacing the current standards. Alabama’s math standards were adopted in 2010 and implemented starting in 2012. Since that year, there have been various revisions and edits to the standards based on input from teachers, administrators and the Alabama public.
The highest-level math courses in mathematics offered by Alabama high schools are advanced placement calculus AB, advanced placement calculus BC and advanced placement statistics. The AP calculus courses are taken after a student has matriculated through Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II with trigonometry and Pre-Calculus. AP Statistics can be taken any time after Algebra II with trigonometry.
The accompanying graphics show the progress of Alabama students in these three courses. Figure 1 exemplifies PARTICIPATION–the number of students who took each of these AP exams from 2008 – 2016. (2017 data has not yet been released by the College Board.)
Figure 2 shows the number of QUALIFYING SCORES (scores of 3, 4 or 5) on each of the exams in the same time period.
You do not have to be a good mathematician to see that during the period that Alabama students have been exposed to the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) their participation and success in these highest-level mathematics courses have grown significantly. In the baseline year of 2010, a total of 1,778 students took advanced AP mathematics exams and 763 earned a qualifying score. Fast forward to 2016; 5,955 students took an advanced AP mathematics exam and 2,616 of them earned a qualifying score. AP mathematics participation has grown 235% and the attainment of qualifying scores in the same classes has grown 243%.
It certainly does appear that the preparatory work students have done, based on the CCRS, has had a positive impact for Alabama students as they are attempting and achieving success in high-level mathematics classes more than ever!