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Home > AP Courses and Exams > Course Home Pages > AP Calculus: Back to the Beginning

AP Calculus: Back to the Beginning

To understand AP Calculus in the 1990s (and the reform movement that shaped what it has become), it is necessary to understand how the AP Program began. In 1952 a group of mathematicians met under the auspices of a pilot program called College Admission with Advanced Standing (CAAS). Their charge was to design a curriculum for a mathematics course that students could take in high school for college credit. The chair of that committee, Heinrich Brinkman of Swarthmore College, held firmly to the position that the course should be nothing less than a full-blown yearlong course in single-variable calculus. Others argued that mathematics could only hope to beef up the existing fourth-year course, and they should look to a sophisticated version of pre-calculus, which was emerging in most colleges as the standard first course anyway. Brinkman's vision prevailed, of course, setting into motion a process that two generations later resulted in AP Calculus playing a major role on the stage of calculus reform.

In 1955 the CAAS program was taken over by the College Board and renamed the Advanced Placement Program. Fewer than 200 students took the first exams in AP Mathematics. In 1999 students from more than 9,000 high schools took a total of 158,468 AP Calculus AB and BC Exams.

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