Preparing for College

High School Course-Taking Suggestions
Students intending to enroll in postsecondary education are well advised to complete four years of college preparatory mathematics as found in Courses 1-4 of the Core-Plus Mathematics program.

Although preparing for college is not synonymous with preparing for calculus, high school students planning to enroll in college mathematics, science, or engineering programs should be prepared to take calculus courses in college or an Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus course while still in high school.

Schools using the CPMP curriculum with all students report increases in the percentage of students electing to take AP Calculus in high school. These districts often also find that students' scores on the AP Calculus exams administered by the College Board are higher than scores prior to implementing the Core-Plus Mathematics Program. (See CPMP School Reports.)

The College Board issues a document for high schools that assists schools in developing a strong mathematics program to prepare their students for AP Calculus. A document is available which identifies where the College Board's suggested topics can be found in the Core-Plus Mathematics textbooks.

Most students attending college do not take calculus courses, but rather take college courses containing algebra and statistics content. The integrated nature of the Core-Plus Mathematics curriculum allows districts to prepare their students for the range of mathematics and statistics courses required by college programs. (See Scope and Sequence.) Schools using the CPMP program are reporting increased student enrollments in AP Statistics courses and high passing rates on the College Board AP Statistics test. (See CPMP School Reports.)

Preparing for College Placement Tests
Contemporary Mathematics in Context Course 4 contains sets of problems called Preparing for Undergraduate Mathematics Placement (PUMP). These problem sets include sample problems of the type often found on college placement tests. The practice sets are written in multiple-choice format as commonly used on placement tests. Teachers can use this feature of the curriculum to help students become proficient on these types of problems in a timed situation.

On a Mathematics Department Placement Test from a large Midwestern university, students completing field-test versions of Core-Plus Mathematics Courses 1, 2, and 3 plus the precalculus path of Course 4 performed as well as students completing traditional precalculus on basic algebra and advanced algebra subtests and performed better on the calculus readiness subtest. These results would have placed 50.6% of the Core-Plus sample into calculus and 39% of the comparison sample into calculus. (See the FAQ.)

Acceleration Paths
It is recommended that (as with the typical algebra, geometry, advanced algebra, precalculus courses) students study four mathematics courses prior to enrolling in an AP Calculus course. In addition to acceleration by having students attend pullout mathematics and science magnet schools, forms of acceleration currently in use in districts teaching Core-Plus Mathematics include:

  • Model 1: accelerating 8th-grade classes using Course 1
  • Model 2: providing some Course 1 work to 8th-graders in addition to their 8th-grade material to allow enrollment in Course 2 as 9th-graders
  • Model 3: accelerating selected 8th-graders who have studied a problem-based middle school program directly into Course 2 (Course 1 content is supplemented as needed during the Course 2 class.)
  • Model 4: providing two class periods of mathematics courses each semester, allowing students to learn, for example, Course 1 one semester and Course 2 the second semester or dual enrollment in Courses 1 and 2
  • Model 5: teaching Courses 1-4 in three years

As you will notice from the models, AP Statistics can be taken the same year as Course 4. This approach allows students to receive an AP credit (college credit) without following an acceleration path. Caution: Students should not replace Core-Plus Mathematics Course 4 with an AP Statistics course. Course 4 provides additional formal algebraic skill development needed for college placement tests that is not present in AP Statistic courses.

For more information on acceleration methods, you may wish to read the article in Volume 4 Issue 1 of the MathLink newsletter summarizing approaches of several schools to acceleration.

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