School Introduces Multivariable Calculus to Students Through MVLA Adult Education

Recently, Mountain View Los Altos (MVLA) Adult Education made Multivariable Calculus available to students. The course, taught by math teacher Michael Richardson, will start next Monday, August 27, and take place every Monday and Wednesday in room 722 from 3 to 5:30 p.m.

The course is intended for students who have previously completed the Calculus BC AP course and want to complete another year of calculus before college.

“If…[students] take Calculus BC their junior year, then they don’t have a calculus or the next math class to take,” Richardson said. “So unless they do it on their own at a community college, then they end up not doing such math for a year.”

To sign up for the course, students can talk to their counselors. Once the course is finished, credit will be granted through the MVLA Adult Education program.

Initially, Foothill had offered to teach the class to students at LAHS (Los Altos High School) campus, but there proved to be too many obstacles to such a program. As a result, the district chose to give Richardson the responsibility of teaching the course.

Other than Multivariable Calculus, there are other math-based courses that students can take after taking Calculus BC AP their previous year: Statistics AP and Computer Science AP. However, Multivariable Calculus is the only class that directly follows Calculus BC AP.

“Computer Science and Statistics–while they have a math background–are not directly math,” Richardson said. “Statistics and Computer Science teach you really useful skills but they’re not all math. So it depends, if you’re not planning to do something with a lot of math, then taking the year off or ending your math at Calculus BC is probably fine. But … those hard-core math people who plan to be math-oriented and go more in-depth in college [should] take Multivariable Calculus.”

The Multivariable Calculus course, even though it is beyond Calculus BC AP, is not considered an AP course and therefore does not have an AP exam. Part of the reasoning behind this is that colleges do not consider the course to go enough in depth for it to be considered a college-level course.

“I think it’s a valid concern because they have no control over the quality of instruction of other institutions,” Richardson said. “But I feel like there are some colleges who feel the same way about AP Calculus [BC]. I had a student who went to CalTech and she said that it didn’t matter to them what she scored on the AP test, she had to take placement tests, and if she didn’t pass them, she would have to take them again.”