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Hello wonderful educators. I am hoping to get some help on a tough situation I am in. So first, a little bit of background facts:

  1. This is my first time teaching an AP class. I've adjuncted for Calc I at a local community college, but this is my first year teaching AP BC Calculus.
  2. The students at my school have a tremendous advantage in BC calculus. Taking AB calculus was a pre-req. That means all of my students have been through AB.
  3. However, last year, the AB teacher was not good at all and most of the students got 1s on the exam, and a few got 2s. I think one of them got a 3.
  4. So when I was told I'd teach BC, I thought I'd be able to cruise through the AB material and get to the BC stuff. However, their lack of preparation in AB really hindered our progress.
  5. You might think "well, most schools just have AB or BC, not both, so you should be in the same position as other BC teachers: teaching all AB and BC topics in one academic year." But my rebuttal is that the school I teach at has a very limited number of classtime minutes. Basically, If I used the AP Calculus BC Course/Exam Description's estimation of how long to spend on each unit, I'd complete the course on our last day of school, which is late May. Obviously that's an issue because the AP Exam is on May 9th and I wanted to have time to review.
  6. I just now started the unit on Polar and Parametric equations, and then I still need to get through the infinite sequences and series unit.
  7. Another barrier is that we teach on an A/B schedule, which means I only see the students every other day. So even though there's about 55 days before the AP exam, I only have about 24 class periods left (discounting weekends, Spring Break, and the days I don't see the students).

So, my ultimate question is this:

QUESTION
What should I do?

  1. Should I just press on and cover polar + parametric + infinite series and not have time to review? Should I expect students to meet with me outside of class time to make sure we have time to cover the material (this would be difficult given the students' other responsibilities at the school)?
  2. Should I finish Polar + Parametric, cut my losses with infinite series and not even try to teach that, so that we can review everything from throughout the year in hopes of getting the students at least a decent AB sub score?
  3. Should I go more extreme and not even do polar/parametric equations and just have 24 days of reviewing everything up to this point, to try to ensure good AB sub scores?

I know it's a tough and very specific question, probably more of a subjective answer, but any guidance would be helpful. Note: I am also asking my department chair and the current AB teacher for their opinions as well, but I thought it wouldn't hurt to get even more perspective from people on here.

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    $\begingroup$ 1) Did you actually end up re-teaching all the AB material, or did the lack of knowledge just mean the BC material was taught more inefficiently? 2) What is the homework policy in your class? If you re-taught all the AB material, then you can already start allocating a fraction of the homework assignments (20%?) to AB material review that can be done independently. If you did not re-teach the AB material and the students still only understand it at a failing level (except slightly worse due to the passage of time), then it sounds like a no-win situation. $\endgroup$
    – Steve
    Mar 15 at 15:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Steve I did go and have to re-teach the AB material. I have started putting AB material on their HWs and making longer FRQs on their HWs that tie in multiple concepts, but those are the questions they are bombing, so it's clear they aren't 100% on that material, despite seeing it last year and this year. they are strong on calculations (like finding derivatives and even pretty good with integrals). They just can't tie it all together, which is why I feel like I want to abandon ship on BC and just practice FRQs for the last month. $\endgroup$
    – ruferd
    Mar 15 at 15:58
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    $\begingroup$ what are AP, AB, and BC? $\endgroup$
    – Jasper
    Mar 15 at 22:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Jasper In the USA, we offer Calculus as a high school class, but since many colleges will accept credit for it, it is labeled as "advanced Placement" or "AP." There are two different AP Calculus classes, Calculus AB and Calculus BC. Calculus AB is roughly all of standard college Calculus I with a bit extra. Calculus BC is roughly all of standard college Calculus I and Calculus II. (There are some topics omitted for the sake of time though). At the end of the year, students take the AP Exam, and if they do well enough, they can earn college credit before enrolling in college. $\endgroup$
    – ruferd
    Mar 16 at 3:45

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After talking with my department chair, the answer seems just obvious to me and I feel almost silly for making this post. I'll post what he said, but I'll also leave the question open to for some other view points (and also not delete the post in case other users have this same issue in future years).

Basically, we decided to push on and cover all of the BC material while weaving in AB review questions on HWs (as mentioned by Steve). The students signed up for BC, so we owe it to them to teach them BC and not focus on a test score. Additionally, some of these students will test into Calc II their first year of college or make it to Calc II eventually, where they will see this material again. We would be giving them a head start if they see it now and have at least some tiny exposure to it.

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    $\begingroup$ You could even make the argument you are helping them more with their AP scores by going this route. Though they did not do well on the AB exam last year, the students have now at least had the AB material presented to them twice, so they share responsibility for its mastery. The students having to teach themselves unintuitive infinite-series material (~18% of the test per Kaplan?) would be much more difficult than reviewing material they should already know. Next year, you might start grading all free-response on their tests to the same standard as AP FRQs to prep up-front. $\endgroup$
    – Steve
    Mar 16 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Steve I was putting FRQs and grading them with AP level of grading, but that's what surprised me so early on. When all their scores were so low, we had a discussion on what they didn't know, and it became more apparent that they really didn't learn much of anything in AB. After seeing the new AB teacher and talking with some of the current AB students, I don't suspect that it would be as big of a problem for next year's group. I hope that when I do those FRQs from the start, they're much better prepared. $\endgroup$
    – ruferd
    Mar 16 at 18:22

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